When talking to Rock Island coaches, it’s hard to tell which they value more — Casey Comodore the athlete, or Casey Comodore the person.
A three-sport athlete as a junior who excelled at wide receiver and defensive back this fall for the Rocky football team, Comodore capped off his senior year by qualifying for the Illinois Class 3A state track and field meet for the first time.
The long jumper took second at last week’s Moline Sectional with a leap of 22 feet, 1.5 inches. That sets him up to compete in the Class 3A preliminaries this Friday at O’Brien Field at Eastern Illinois University.
“It’s amazing," said the 6-foot, 165-pounder who will take his skills to Western Illinois University's track team next year. "Those last two years I had a hard time,”
Comodore was close both his sophomore and junior years. He even claims he choked a bit last year, scratching on a couple of jumps.
But Thursday he met state qualifying right away, then finished 7.5 inches short of his career best of 22-9.
“I know this year I had to go out immensely ready,” he said. “I had to go out and do it.”
It sets the stage for a possible state medal. But there’s far more to Comodore than just his accomplishments on the track or football field.
Greatness for him begins with the kind of person he is, Rock Island track coach Ed Lillis said.
“He is a great person,” Lillis said emphatically. “And everything else is just fringes. Good football player, good track athlete, Good all-around athlete. But fundamentally a very, very good person.”
Outgoing Rock Island football coach Bryan Stortz readily agrees.
“I just think Casey’s an unbelievable kid, not just athletically,” Stortz said. “He’s everything you look for in a student-athlete.
"Casey’s just a great, great personality and a kid Rock Island will sorely miss.”
A peek into why coaches speak so highly of Comodore came right after the long jump competition last Thursday.
Comodore made it to state, but his long-time rival, United Township’s Jean-Luc Soglohun, did not. Swirling winds had played havoc with some of the long jumpers' routines.
“It is a shock,” said Comodore of Soglohun, who did advance in the triple jump. “I know that he really worked hard for this and deserves it. It wasn’t that good of a day.
“We were all trying to encourage the jumpers."
Comodore admitted he looks out for others anytime, anywhere.
“I want to see other people be successful,” he said. “I am nice to people. I don’t like it when people are mean to people. I stand up to people because what if you were in that position? You wouldn’t like it.”
He credits a long list of people for helping him along the way. His mom, Renae Dixon Comodore, is right at the top of the list along with his twin sister, Camryn.
“My mom is really strong,” he said. “My mom has always been there. She’s always harping on me. My sister gets on me hard.”
Comodore also has strong faith.
“Everything is because of God; I put all my trust in him,” he said.
Comodore has about a 3.0 GPA, but he got off to a slow start academically his freshmen year, admitting he messed up. But he rallied after that.
His talent was obvious in football where he caught several long touchdown passes from quarterback Alek Jacobs and also made a clutch interception in the Rocks’ opening round win in the Class 6A playoffs to ice the game.
“He was blessed with some ability that made him to be an all-around athlete and be able to perform in all sports,” Stortz said. “One of the things is just his willingness to learn and adapt and pick up on things.
“What people don’t see off the court, off the field, off the track is just his unbelievable work ethic,” Stortz added. “Casey puts in a ton of time and effort. He’s a very humble kid, he has great character, all the things you want in an athlete away from the field. Then he just has the bonus of being a great athlete on top of all that.”
The effort and athletic ability have all come together in track.
It starts with the fundamentals, Lillis said. There has to be an adequate amount of speed, coordination, agility, plus bounce and energy.
“All of those things are so important for the jumps,” Lillis added.
He is happy to see his senior's hard work pay off with a state berth.
“He just barely missed last year,” Lillis said. “It’s just well-deserved for a good kid who’s put in a whole bunch of work. He deserves a trip to state and a medal if he can do it one more week.”