Boys and Girls Club Now Offers Track and Field
Size was no indication of determination for young athletes at Greenbelt's track and field practice.
The Greenbelt Boys and Girls Club is offering track and field for kids from five to 18, for the first time. They’re accepting registrations until May 28, so there’s still time to sign up.
The club already offers soccer, cheerleading, football and basketball, but they decided to add track and field, inspired by it being gender open, according to president Orin Howard who said he was glad to be offering a sport where both boys and girls could participate.
Howard also wants to expose young members to a variety sports, “We’re trying to give them more bang for your buck,” he said, adding that next year the club plans to add golf.
At their second practice on Friday, May 6, the bang seemed to be working. “It’s very healthy for you,” Autumn Trueseale, 7, piped out – and that after running some muscle-taxing races against fellow athletes.
Thirteen-year old Semy Antoine was after more than fitness, “I just want to be faster,” he said.
Greenbelt Boys and Girls Club track and field program will continue through mid-August, with practices on Fridays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Eleanor Roosevelt High School.
In the past, Greenbelt kids interested in track and field often commuted to the Berwyn Heights club. Although Boys and Girls clubs are for residents, when a city doesn’t offer a particular sport, its citizens can sign up with a neighboring town’s club.
That’s how it all started with Greenbelt Boys and Girls Club commissioner Carol Brown. Her two daughters, Asha, 8, and Nia, 11, participated in Berwyn Heights' track and field program, when Brown said it hit her, “Hey, we could do this in Greenbelt.”
When she presented her idea to the club, they came back with an “Okay, would you be interested in being a commissioner?” she recounted, laughing.
She said, "yes," and the situation reversed, now youth from other cities without track and field can participate in Greenbelt’s program.
Louis Saint-Felix, who coaches at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School in Silver Spring, is coach for the Greenbelt track and field program. When Howard approached him about taking on the responsibility, Saint-Felix was an easy sell. “Anything for the kids,” Saint-Felix said.
At the kids’ first practice on Sunday, May 1, Brown reported around 34 showed up, despite it raining. “We had itty bitty ones, 5-year olds that were out there running,” she said.
The 7-year olds were out there running too. One of them, Jovaughn Watkins, took a few breaths between races to report, “I’m learning when you do track it’s not really about winning, it’s about having fun.”