OSKALOOSA — Jason Lester is someone who is more often behind the spotlight than in front of it.
Lester was a member of the Oskaloosa High School football team that won the state championship in 1996. He was also involved with the Storybook Players at OHS and in the theatre program.
Currently, Lester is the events coordinator at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids, organizing everything from concerts and dance studio performances to comedians and small runs of Broadway productions. Lester has lived in Cedar Rapids since graduating college in 2002.
In his spare time, Lester is also the technical director for the Opera Theatre, is the offensive coordinator for Kennedy High School, helps in the tech department, does freelance light design and more.
“Everything under the sun,” he said.
Lester said his biggest influences are George Daily Auditorium Executive Director Randy Wright and Oskaloosa High School football coach Jerry Staton. He cites them for teaching him how to be a professional and building his character. After school programs taught Lester the most, he said, when it came to things he relies upon in his daily life.
As part of the winning Oskaloosa football team in 1996, Lester described it as an amazing experience and one of the best tests of perseverance he has goon through. While it was an important part of his life, Lester said his coach stressed it should not be the most important.
“This is a great moment,” Lester said, “but it’s not the greatest moment.”
Lester said he didn’t really get it at the time, but as time went on, he finally knew what it meant.
“I really don’t have one moment that shines above. I’d say that I am probably most proud that I have become a well-rounded person that is making a difference in other people’s lives,” he said. “I owe that to all the influential people in my life. From my parents, educators, family and my wonderful wife. Without them, there is no way I would be who I am today. I owe them a lot.”
In addition to being on the football team, Lester was part of the theatre program and the Storybook Players. He remembered performing in the small gym for a majority of his time in high school and having a lot of fun with these programs. George Daily Auditorium opened in 1999, Lester’s senior year.
“I was in StoryBook Players my senior year. We did ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff.’ I was the mean old troll,” he said. “After the show I had a little girl approach me and tugged on my shirt. She motioned for me to kneel down. She then gave me a huge hug and ran off. She felt sorry for my character and wanted to show that everything was ok. It was such a moving moment. One I will never forget.”
Lester’s life continues to balance between sports and theatre, as it did in high school.
“My experience was different than most but there were athletes involved in drama,” he said. “There wasn’t as much separation and there are more similarities than people realize.”