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Marsh column: The track and field experience

Q. I read about the accomplishments of the Salisbury Speedsters and am interested for my daughter to join them. I am completely new to track and field, so what can I expect?A. This was our first year too and we have had and still are having a great experience with track and field and being part of Salisbury Speedsters.
We practice three times a week, 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. When we have a big meet coming up, we add a Wednesday. When we start our season at the end of March, we start with conditioning the athletes. The first meet is at the end of April and the season lasts until the first week of August.
When we start the meets, the workouts change to faster runs, intervals and work on technique. The workouts differ depending on what event will be your primary event.
Andrew’s primary event is the 800M but he also runs the 400M. Alicia Bradshaw’s primary events are shot put and discus but she also does javelin. Head coach Tim Dunlap works with our children and looks at the big picture. He does not just train them to be a champion this year; he wants them to excel in high school and college, too.
As long as their times decrease in running events and their distances increase in field events (like long jump, shot put, etc.), he is excited. When you push a young athlete too hard and/or too much, they will get injured or get burned out on something they used to love.
Our coach really focuses on improvement, with health and mind as a number-one focus. We might be a small team (14 active kids) but we are bringing home the medals and the times our kids are clocking are out of this world: Jaleesa Smoot, 12, 1 minute flat in the 400M; Justin Avery 18, 21.33 in the 200M, breaking the Jim Law invitational record this past June; Jabari Dalton 8, 1:12:57 in the 400M; Juanita Leto, 16, 14.88 in the 100M hurdles; Payton Russell, 9, 1:06 in 400M; Alicia Bradshaw 38.7M shot put.
These athletes all qualified for the USATF Nationals held in Greensboro. We run in both USATF and AAU. AAU Nationals are in Iowa this year but next year closer to home in Virginia Beach. We like to participate in both organizations because it gives our kids more exposure and experience and different kids to compete against.
You can expect high-quality coaching, a wholesome Christian atmosphere, true team spirit and very dedicated children and parents. Meets are all-day events. We bring tents and coolers and seats and make it a fun family day.
Expect your child and yourself to make new friends. Expect your child to become a respectful winner and learn to deal and accept defeats. They will learn to look at the big picture and get excited when they have personal bests (even if they did not place).
My first year experience has exceeded all my expectations. Andrew asked the other day, “Can I run for Salisbury Speedsters ’til I am 18?”
My husband answered, “Of course!”
Andrew asked, “But where am I going to run after I am 18?”
My husband answered, “College hopefully”
“And after that?”
“Let’s shoot for the Olympics!” Mom said.
Reach for the stars and don’t let anyone shoot down your hopes and dreams. With hard work, great coaching, and God, anything is possible.
Contact Ester Marsh at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@rowan ymca.com.

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