By Coach Phil
File this under “nobody asked you Coach Phil," but I’m OK with that because what I’ve been seeing lately is pretty awesome. Kids are interested in the sport of running!
This is great because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that one in five school-aged children in the United States is considered obese. Obese! That is altogether frightening with all of the health issues associated with obesity. So why talk about this now? Lately I’ve been noticing a really exciting trend. A trend not defined by sales figures or hashtags. During the last year I’ve seen an explosion in the youth running scene.
To clarify, these are club sports for youth athletes, primarily kids in sixth grade and younger, those not eligible for high school sports. Though some of the clubs may be comprised of athletes from a particular school or started in association with a certain school they are not considered school teams by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. Often, these clubs are open for anyone to join. The clubs and their members can then participate in open races and winter track meets, which are also open to athletes of any age or skill level. They are a great melting pot of old, young, novice and experienced competitors looking to give their best.
Since maybe the Baldwinsville Invite back in September, there have been lots of clubs participating in races and meets. At that invite I first noticed the Auburn Pulsars as they brought a group of youngsters to run the open 5k that morning. The Pulsars are a group open to any youth athlete in Auburn. Throughout the winter I've seen this group grow in numbers at each monthly all-comers indoor track meets hosted at Onondaga Community College's (OCC) SRC Arena. The Pulsars’ milesplit roster boasts 21 youth athletes. The group is full of really excited, hard-working kids but boasts an amazing support/cheering section of parents, coaches and fans.
Those same meets also see the SAS Track Club. Like the Pulsars, this group is well coached and organized but most importantly has great enthusiasm! (Not much else is known about them as I couldn’t find any website or Milesplit page dedicated to their club.) At the last OCC meet I noticed Magistics Track Club is also now bringing a group of youth athletes to compete and as the results show, succeed in the sport of track and field. Milesplit says that club has 22 athletes.
The FREE meets are put on and run by the Syracuse Chargers Track Club with timing provided by Leone Timing. The Chargers also bring a group of high-energy youth athletes to their "home" meets. They are coached and organized by longtime coach Jasper Royal aka Coach Royal who does a great job of making the sport fun.
Nearly 80 youth athletes ran and jumped their fastest and longest this winter here in Syracuse. Not only are they having fun competing but they are learning the benefits of hard work, teamwork and exercise all while having fun. That’s one of the very reasons we host a Kids’ No Boundaries group in the spring, summer and fall to promote those same lessons. In a society where it’s so easy to get lost in "screen time," sometimes those lessons go unlearned. But the trends I'm seeing are just great! So many kids are getting interested in an amazing sport.
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