February 20, 2011



Providence, R.I.—Rhode Island College Head Men’s & Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field Coach Kevin Jackson was honored along with Thom Spann as the founders of the Providence Cobras Track Club by Words Unlimited at the organization’s annual banquet held at the Radisson Airport Hotel.


The duo was awarded the Community Service Award. As co-founders of the Providence Cobras Track Club - and as coaches of their own track and cross country programs - Jackson and Spann have helped form the backbone of those three sports in Rhode Island. Their influences in the community are immeasurable.




Jackson, the former boys’ track coach at Pilgrim High, has been the coach of men’s and women’s cross country and track at Rhode Island College for the past decade. A member of the Providence City Council, Jackson was instrumental in the concept and planning of what is now the Providence Career & Technical Academy (PCTA) near the Central/Classical High School campuses. The facility contains - among many features - a four-lane, 200-meter track, with accommodations for all indoor field events. The PCTA building has been the site for the past two years of the state Indoor Track & Field Championships and has allowed the sport and athletes from around the state to take a giant leap forward.


Spann - a member of the R.I. Interscholastic League’s Hall of Fame and the 1992 Words Unlimited Schoolgirl Coach of the Year - began his coaching career in the state as track coach at North Kingstown High. He has coached track at Hope High for the past 25 years.


Jackson formed the Providence Cobras youth track and field program in 1978 as part of a college work-study program. Spann soon came on board and together they have kept the program going long after the funding ran out. Over the past three decades, they have developed hundreds of young athletes, teaching them and training them and showing them how to use athletics as a way to open doors.


“The Cobras have meant a lot to me,” said Wayne Newson,  a 1990 graduate of Hope High School who went on to receive a track scholarship to the University of Houston. “They got me to where I am now. I ran in this program when I was eight and stayed with it all through high school. Without the Cobras, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. This is a great program. I know I wouldn’t have gone to Houston without the Cobras.”