Parent’s military background drives Womble

By Tony Osborne

After his first day of high school football practice, Jamal Womble came home with somber news.

As a new resident in Sierra Vista, Ariz., with a small amount of acquaintances, Jamal had to tell his parents Buena Vista High School already had its starting running back picked.

Because of that, Jamal got a junior varsity locker.

But his father. Command Sergeant Maj. James Womble, didn’t let his son sulk and settle.

“I told him, ‘Of course you’re on [junior varsity]; they haven’t seen you play,'” James said. “I told him to show them why he shouldn’t be on [the junior varsity team].”

With his father’s words in mind, Jamal went back to practice the next day and showed his coaches he deserved to play.

The stout running back ran over the varsity linebacker “four or five times,” James said, and scored eight touchdowns.

Needless to say, Womble received his coveted varsity locker after practice that day.

The Teachey, N.C. native’s mother and father taught him to thrive through adversity from a young age.

Both of Jamal’s parents were actively enlisted in the U.S. Army throughout Jamal’s life. His father has been enlisted for 27 years.

“It’s a different experience,” Jamal said. “[We] moved around a lot as a kid.”

Jamal and his family have lived all over the world, from Arizona and Georgia to Korea and Germany.

Since his parents spent much of their time in the Army, Jamal lived with his grandma for the first years of his life.

When his mother, Martrina, decided to leave the Army, the family moved to Georgia.

“I was fortunate enough to play football in Georgia as a kid, and football is like a religion in Georgia,” Jamal said.

Georgia would end up being the foundation of Jamal’s football career, where he’d build off it for years to come.

With football as his main interest, Jamal had a rock that kept him focused: his family.

“He has a dad that you can call, and he will help you get him whipped into shape,” said Eddie Faulkner, NIU running backs and special teams coach.

A military upbringing may have helped Jamal’s success and discipline as a football player.

“I will tell you, military kids are unique in their ability to adapt to their surroundings,” James said.

Adaptability helped Jamal; moving from state to state, country to country, he had to adjust to his surroundings to fit in with others.

“He has an attitude to where he will come in and adapt, overcome the boundaries and come out better for it,” James said. “He is as close to a chameleon as possible.”

These values that James and Martrina instilled in Jamal led to one goal.

“Everything will never go great, but you have to find the good in everything,” James said.