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After a lifetime at Heritage, Canaan Jumper prepares to head west

American Heritage senior Canaan Jumper takes an at-bat in the Patriots’ 7-2 win against Jensen Beach in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal on May 11, 2022, in Plantation. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

PLANTATION — Canaan Jumper has spent about 12 years heading east for her education, but she is planning to head west for college, very far west.

Jumper, who graduated from American Heritage School in Plantation on May 21 and played on the softball team, will attend the University of Arizona in Tucson.

She visited the campus and is eager to return in August to start her freshman year.

“I like the campus and I like how people greeted us. Everybody was really nice,” she said. “They have a lot of things for Native students, so I really like that. I just like how they are really involved with the Natives.”

Jumper said she hopes to live in the college’s Native learning and living center. She plans to study behavioral science. She hopes to continue playing softball recreationally.

American Heritage senior Canaan Jumper fields a ball during warm-ups before facing Jensen Beach on May 11, 2022, in Plantation. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

For nearly her entire academic life, Jumper, the daughter of Andrea and Josh Jumper, has made the hour-long journey each way between the Big Cypress Reservation and Plantation.

“I’ve been going here since first grade, so I grew up with most of these people. I know a majority of the staff. It’s like a second family here,” she said.

Before she turned the tassel on her graduation cap, Jumper finished her high school softball career. She was one of nine seniors on the team. She spent most of the season as a pinch-hitter and backup first baseman. Her playing time in the field was not extensive, but she made the most of her plate appearances.

“One thing Canaan has [is] a really good knack of coming in and pinch hitting in critical situations because nothing affects her,” Heritage coach Marty Cooper said. “She doesn’t show any nerves. She just comes in and takes good hacks. She’s come through a few times with base hits when we needed them. Not many people can come off the bench and be cold and swing the bat as if you’ve been playing the whole game.”

Jumper finished with four hits and four RBIs in 17 at-bats this season.

Being a tough out is something she learned from years of watching older sister Ahnie play at Heritage and then at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“I learned a lot,” she said. “The way Ahnie played, she really taught me how to carry myself in tough situations, like if I get a strikeout, not to let it get into my head.”

Through the years, she watched Ahnie win state championships in softball and her brothers Andre and Blevyns win state titles in football. Heritage’s softball team wasn’t as powerful this season as it has been in the past, but the Patriots did win a district championship. They beat Jensen Beach, 7-2, in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal before narrowly losing to St. Brendan in the semifinals, 6-5.

Heritage finished with a 13-14-1 record.

Cooper said he’ll have to get used to not having a Jumper in the program next season.

“Very nice family. Good people,” he said. “They’re supportive whether their kids are playing or not playing. They’re team people.”

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at