Nanaimo Track and Field Club athletes are off to a fast start this season after no competition last season due to the pandemic. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo Track and Field Club athletes are off to a fast start this season after no competition last season due to the pandemic. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo athletes back on track, starting with club competitions

Nanaimo Track and Field Club registration filled up

BY IAN THORPE

As we look forward to the official start of summer this weekend, optimism seems to prevail. Not just for the change of season, but more so for the coming steps in the B.C. restart plan that will see sporting activities as well as other gatherings return to normal and get back on track.

In one case, getting back on track has been taken literally.

Nanaimo Track and Field Club has been a mainstay in our community since 1960. And it has survived to continue serving athletes of all ages despite the challenges of COVID-19 during the past year.

There was essentially no track season last spring and summer, as competitive gatherings could not be held. For this year, however, club spokesperson Phillip Vannini reports that a group of dedicated club athletes have been training very hard throughout the pandemic. Their dedication, and that of their coaches, is a tribute to their resilience and enthusiasm.

So the NTFC executive is looking forward to the summer ahead. Returning this year is longtime president Tyler Heisterman, along with vice-president Bernie Katzberg, secretary Shaula Croome and treasurer Don Putz. Others on the board are Cristi Lundman, Al Johnston, Kim Cameron, Robert Shurniak, Wanda Urbanowicz and Vannini.

Registration for the spring/summer season has been held, but fewer athletes than usual could be accepted. A cap on group sizes, staggered training times and additional measures to reduce risk have been put in place by club organizers in accordance with B.C. Athletics, ViaSport and public health orders. As a result, all club programs are currently full and there is a waitlist.

For those currently enrolled, the Rotary Bowl track facility is the site for all training programs. Endurance training in middle distance running for high school aged athletes happens Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings with coaches Heisterman, Shelby Drope and Melissa Ross. Also on those days is speed and power training for the same age group. Mike Viers and Wanda Urbanowicz coach sprints and hurdles, Sven Donaldson coaches pole vault and Marc Paris handles high jump. Skills in throwing events such as hammer, discus, javelin and shot put are coached by Vannini and Katzberg on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

For younger athletes, junior development track and field conditioning programs for 9-11 and 12-13 year-olds focus on fundamental motor skills of running, jumping and throwing. Sessions are Tuesdays and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings led by coaches Win Myint, Olivia Lundman and Sonya Urbanowicz. Not to forget the older competitors, Wanda Urbanowicz oversees strength and conditioning for masters 35-plus athletes on Monday and Friday mornings.

As for competitions, B.C. Athletics currently allows for intra-squad meets only. This is largely due to the travel ban in place, as well as the maximum 50 restriction on number of people in attendance at a facility. NTFC held one intra-squad meet in May. Another happened last weekend and a third is scheduled for June 26. We’ll have results from those competitions in a future column.

Looking ahead, the hope is that restrictions will further ease after July 1, so that more travel and possibly inter-club meets can be held. For now, though, there’s no doubt that NTFC is back on track.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

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Track and field