Kids learn track and field fundamentals

In red, Gabby Grandbois races to the finish line in the 4x100 relay, pulling away from competitor Marina Wika. - DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter
In red, Gabby Grandbois races to the finish line in the 4x100 relay, pulling away from competitor Marina Wika.
— image credit: DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter

LAKEWOOD While most of the kids sat in the stands, 7-year-old Nate Morford lined up at one end of the Lakewood High School track and ran 100 meters to the finish line.

"I want to practice. It's just snack time," Morford said when this reporter pointed out that he should rejoin the other kids attending the Marysville parks department's youth track camp.

Although Morford and the other 60 or so campers had spent the morning cycling through events as varied as the javelin, shot put and high jump, Morford asked a student coach what the 100 was when Lakewood coach Jeff Sowards announced that the campers would try that sprinting event after a short break. After a quick explanation, Morford jogged down to the starting line and assumed the starting position he and his fellow campers had learned during the camp that had begun four days earlier.

Morford's enthusiasm mirrored the mantra Sowards and the campers would repeat throughout the week: "If you think you can or you think you can't, you're right. So think you can."

The experience seemed mutually beneficial to the kids ranging in age from about 6 to 14 and their high school- and college-aged coaches. Sowards said that the Lakewood coaching staff jumped at the chance to take over the city's track program.

"We have great high school kids, and they made the program," he said. "The kids look up to them as heroes."

The student coaches seemed equally fond of their charges as each three-hour camp wound down with coaches calling their campers up in front of the group individually and praising a kid's work ethic or new personal record in an event. Tawnya Hulslander, who graduated from Lakewood this spring after competing at state in the javelin, shot put and discus, said she found the experience valuable as an aspiring teacher. Hulslander will attend Pensacola Christian (Fla.) this fall, where she plans to major in music education and minor in physical education.

"(Our goal was) to focus on the fun aspect of track and field, encourage them to come out for track when they're older and teach a few points of track and field," she said.

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