Register Now for Spring Track & Field!

Registration is open for our Spring Track & Field Program, and we encourage you to register sooner than later so we can plan appropriately. Also, you can still sign up for the last race of our Winter Series – the 5K – on Saturday, February 26th. Use code: WRS5K22 to pay the original $5 fee.­
­Register For Spring Track & Field­
­Sign Up for the 5K­
­Program Information
We have recently shared that there is some uncertainty around exact session days, times and locations, but we have made some decisions. We still humbly ask for a little flexibility this season, as we work around the renovation of our home track, but we will do our best to make this a relatively smooth, and ridiculously fun season! I know there is a lot of info here, but I have tried very hard to cover every detail. Please take some time to read through this note, but feel free to send me any questions at all.  

Two Programs to Choose From:
After the success of our Cross Country program, we are offering two options for spring track & field.  

Option 1: Beginner/Busy Kid/Casual programJoin us for one session per week, on Saturday mornings, for either a practice or a meet, depending on the schedule. Meets are developmental, and meant to be fun, learning experiences, so it is fine to just show up and compete. We will provide plenty of instruction at our regular season meets. The meets are generally all within a 30-40 drive of Haddon Township/Westside Cherry Hill (Shawnee High School is probably the furthest), and there may some options for meets in Pennsylvania that can be a little further. Please note that all meets are always optional. 

Option 2: Advanced ProgramFor kids who want more, we offer two additional practice sessions per week. This option does not require a certain level of talent, only desire. Please consider starting with the beginner option if your child is just testing out the sport, but if they are motivated to dive in head first, it is fine to begin with the advanced program. The additional practice sessions for the advanced program do allow the kids to focus more one the events they prefer, but fun is still the goal.  

Program Dates:
March 12th to May 16th
These are the official start and end dates to the program that you register for, AND when possible, we will schedule additional practice sessions for kids who wish to compete in AAU/USATF Junior Olympic qualifier meets*.  

Session Days and Times:
The first four weeks we will lead practice sessions on Saturdays at 9:00am at Cooper River Park, unless we have a meet scheduled on one of those Saturdays. (The meet schedule will be finalized in the next couple of weeks, but we do not anticipate attending our first meet until April.) Meets are generally held in the early afternoon, and usually on Saturdays. The track at Cooper River Park is scheduled to be renovated starting on April 4th, so after our fourth Saturday session we will likely move to Sunday evenings at 5:00pm. This switch would allow us to hold practices at the new track at Rutgers-Camden, with the added benefit of having a real long jump pit! 
***If your child is in the beginner/busy kid/casual option, and not able to attend Sunday evenings, we will allow you to choose one of the evening sessions as an alternative.  

Additional Practice Sessions for Advanced Program:
We are definitely meeting for one of our weeknight sessions on Wednesdays at 5:00pm at Cooper River Park. The second weeknight session will be on Mondays or Tuesdays, or both, depending on the schedule and coach availability. (If we add a third weeknight session it would be to focus on one event).  

We are expanding our team of experienced coaches this spring! Of course you will see myself and Coach Jill Chestnut out there, and we will be joined by Jake Dinerman, who began helping us in the fall with cross country. For those of you who have not met Jake yet, he is a Haddon Township grad who went on to TCNJ where he started his own adult competitive running club, Moody Park. Jake continues to compete at a very high level, and brings some great experience and perspective to the club. We are also welcoming one of the most loved coaches in the region to our club, Bob McCue. Bob has coached at the youth and high school levels for years, and is currently the head cross country and track and field coach at Camden Catholic. Depending on how many kids sign up this spring, we are prepared to add one or two more assistant coaches as well. ­
­Register For Spring Track & Field­
­*AAU/USATF Junior Olympic Competition:
Do not let the name intimidate you (or your child :). Although the word “olympic” may imply the highest level of competition, the extended spring track & field season begins with a district qualifier meet that is truly an “all-comers” competition. That said, if your child was still hesitant to compete by the end of our regular season, we would recommend calling it a season at that point (and hopefully a fun one!) But if your child is asking for more (it would literally be good to see if they are actually asking), then regardless of how competitive they are in terms of times or distances, it would be great to take them to the district meet. The top six kids in each event qualify to compete at the regional championship. Depending on the event, it can be relatively easy to qualify for the regional meet. It is completely up to families if they want to move on to the next meet (last year it was held in Millersville, PA, and likely will be held there again this year). The top six kids in each event at the regional meet qualify for the National Championship. One note to all of this is that if there is no district meet, then kids can being at the regional meet. Also, the district meet can be quite a distance, since our district is all of New Jersey. And finally, the USATF version of the Junior Olympics is a completely different path, and begins with a regional meet, and due to COVID, only held a national meet the last two years. 

This is a bit lengthy, but if you think you may have a superstar kid, I really encourage you to read on.

All of this said, please understand that as coaches and as a club, we feel very strongly that kids should take their time wading into higher levels of competition. There is no certain age that is appropriate to begin, but rather, your child should be emotionally ready for the excitement, tension, and potential disappointment involved in serious competition. There is no rush. The American Developmental Model, which you can read about in this blog post on our website (along with some other important ideas), encourages us to reconsider how we approach training and competition in youth sports. Even if the goal is to develop kids to be adult Olympians, history and science both show us that there is no rush, and in fact, “late bloomers” (kids who mature later, and often fail to impress as kids) in all sports, tend to have longer, more successful athletic careers. It can be very exciting to see your own child succeed in athletics.

Sometimes our own excitement leads us to focus too much on the success, or achievement, when even the best kids still just want to have fun (this is overwhelmingly what they report in surveys). While getting on a plane and flying to Texas to compete against the country’s best athletes is fun for some 9-year-olds (yes, I am thinking of one of our own club kids :), that is certainly beyond what others want to do on their summer vacation. If you push a kids too hard, too fast, before they are asking for it (even then, why are they asking?) then you will likely ruin the whole sport for them. Coach Jake told us a very interesting story this past fall about a former teammate of his who was recruited to run at an Ivy League college and then completely burned out before a single college competition. When asked when track stopped being enjoyable for him, he said it was when the focus became the times he was running. At that point the sport became less about just racing to win (which is fun), and more about a grind, with inevitable frustration and disappointment (no one runs a pr every race). 

Thanks for reading, and we hope to see your kids out for spring track & field!
Coach Craig
­Register For Spring Track & Field­

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