Jade Walleman will be the first to tell you she is not alone in her accomplishment of being named the Meijer State Games of Michigan Youth Athlete of the Year. This 10-year old from Chesterfield Township can contribute at least half of her award to her brother, Reid Walleman. Reid is the reason why Jade got involved with sports in the first place. Growing up, Jade had a hard time finding a sport she fit into due to physical challenges, but her brother Reid was determined to get Jade involved. Despite having no previous experience or intent to try the sport, Reid took up fencing just to give Jade an opportunity to try something new.
The new sport benefited both parties. Jade found a sport she felt comfortable competing in while her brother, Reid, excelled at the sport in his own way, eventually placing high at many competitions including the State Games. Fencing served as an opening for Jade, who used the confidence she gained in fencing to participate in other sports she once never bothered trying. One of those sports was track and field, where Jade decided to compete at the Summer State Games. She turned out to be a natural, earning a bronze medal at the shot put event.
Following in her brothers footsteps of previous State Games appearances in both ice hockey and fencing, Jade hopes to continue her participation in the State Games, including a stunt at rowing for the upcoming Winter Games. When asked about the strong sister-brother relationship these two shared, 10-year old Jade simply replied, “He is the best big brother because he taught me how to ride a bike, fence, and do track and field.” The feeling was quite mutual with Reid, who added, “I can always count on Jade to be in the stands cheering for me at every game as well as trying harder than anyone else to try to beat me in fencing.”
In addition to the unconditional support from her brother, Jade also cherishes the loving care of her mother, Kimm Walleman. Being a physical therapist, Kimm is often quick to make sure her kids maintain a healthy living both physically and mentally, but also claims her children are the ones to get her back in shape. Kimm stated, “She (Jade) inspired me to also sign up for track & field. I have not ran for 20 years, but she forces me to train at the school track with her and her brother every night. Her story is truly one of determination and hard work.”
One of the favorite quotes the Walleman’s like to live by comes from Tony Dorsett, who said, “To succeed... You need to find something to hold onto, something to motivate you, and something to inspire you." For the Walleman’s, that something is family. Whether it be Reid trying a new sport for the sake of his sister, or Kimm spending long nights at the track with her kids training, we could all learn a little something about family affection through their story.
Interested in Track & Field?
The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.