County Rec and Parks begins new program

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
The county’s Department of Recreation and Parks began a new program on Saturday, offering track and field workouts to middle and elementary school-aged children. The first session was held at North Dorchester High School’s new track and field facility, with others scheduled for Cambridge-South Dorchester’s site.

SHILOH — “It’s thrilling,” Frank Stout said on Saturday morning as he looked across the new track at North Dorchester High School. He was watching about 50 children, ages 8-13, as they trained hard in the first track and field workout of a new Dorchester County Recreation and Parks program.

Mr. Stout, the director of Rec and Parks, had spent months working with Head Coach Derek Coleman to put together the project. Mr. Coleman had initiated a private club over the winter for middle school aged students, and seeing the positive response, cooperated with county officials to make it available to the general public.

The children were divided in two groups, with the older ones getting down to business from 9-10 a.m., and the younger ones for an hour after that. Cool temperatures and a very stiff breeze didn’t slow down the athletes, as they went through extensive warmups and stretching, followed by work on the track, in the long jump pit and for a hardy few, shot put and discus.

Mr. Coleman is an experienced Pop Warner football coach and works as a math teacher at Mace’s Lane Middle School. He said he got the idea for the middle school team to, “try to give kids something to do that’s productive.”
While at first he wanted to give create a group for his nephews and other football players, as the idea grew, he decided, “to offer it to as many kids as we can.”

The program serves more than one purpose. It will be a feeder for high school track and field teams, something other counties have as a competitive advantage.

It will also complement other sports already in progress – that is, track and field’s running, jumping and throwing skills and training are well suited to other athletic endeavors.

“We decided on Saturday morning practices specifically not to interfere with other spring sports,” Mr. Coleman said. “We didn’t, and don’t, want to compete with baseball, softball and lacrosse. We want to offer this track and field series in addition to the sports kids in the area may already be participating in. If your child plays another sport, focus on that. But we will work with your child in speed and agility wherever they’re available.”

Last but not least, the conditioning and strength work needed for track and field are important aspects of a person’s general health and fitness.

Mr. Coleman was joined on Saturday by assistant coaches Jordan Coleman, Dr. Eric Widmaier, Stacey Brown and Gaven Parker. The third Coleman brother and C-SD football coach, Jake, made a guest appearance, and Jake’s son Brycen, one of the athletes, helped to lead the younger children.

In fact, with so much going on, the coaches were glad to have many veterans of the winter club on hand to guide and encourage the new kids. Jamarion Wongus said, “It’s good to help kids, so they know they can help other people, even if they are not grown ups.”

There are still a few spots open. For information, call 410-228-5578.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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