I, along with a huge stable of other photographers, do work for West Chester University (my alma mater, Class of '94, Go Rams!). This is second year I have covered the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brunch and awards for the school. Each year they honor someone with "Drum Major for Justice" award. The title Drum Major for Justice is taken from one of Dr. King’s sermons, which he gave the same year he was assassinated.
This year it was awarded to Ronn Jenkins, a 1965 graduate of West Chester State College who had been aggressively recruited for his academic achievements and excellent diving skills. He went on to earn his master's degree from Bucknell University and his doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Beyond his professional attributes, Jenkins has excelled in the sport of diving. He has been nationally recognized, serving on the NCAA Swimming and Diving Committee, the National YMCA Swimming and Diving Committee and as chair of the United States Diving Committee on Diversity. In 1995 he was named the NCAA Diving Officials Coordinator for the Diving World Cup and he served in the same role at the Olympic Games in Beijing. In 2009, he was inducted into the WCU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jenkins' illustrious career has cast him as a legendary diving coach in the Greater Philadelphia region who mentored and tutored numerous All-American and championship divers from diverse backgrounds both at WCU and through the many private lessons he gave. Equally notable, he has coached the men’s and women’s diving teams as a volunteer for more than 38 years, continuing to do so even now as a retiree.
I cover so many tragic, negative and angry events as a daily photographer. I admit, there is a rush in the uncertain and the challenge. Perhaps it is just me getting old and soft, but I love the human element more and more. I respect those who are unassuming and lacking in bravado. In a world where so many coaches scream and gesticulate and throw things and become the focal point (not so much in swimming and diving I know), I found myself thinking how his grace and quiet charm must contribute to his success. Everybody has a story, and I am so pleased to have had the chance to document the recognition of his.