Spring brings track and field

The Nanaimo Track and Field Club is now holding registration for its spring and summer season.

Last weekend’s brief taste of sunshine was a welcome reminder that hopefully warmer and drier weather isn’t too far away. Certainly the spring sports leagues are anxious to get underway. Ball teams have been formed, lacrosse is gearing up and spring football has kicked off. And among the other sports beginning at this time of year, track and field is now holding registration for its spring and summer season.

Since being founding back in 1960, the Nanaimo and District Track and Field Club has provided thousands of local athletes the opportunity to train, compete and enjoy themselves. Affiliated with B.C. Athletics and Athletics Canada, the stated purpose of the club is to promote, encourage and develop the widest participation and the highest proficiency in track and field, race walking, road running, marathon and cross country running in B.C..

The number of national and internationally successful athletes produced by NDTFC is certainly impressive. Among them are Olympic javelin thrower Phil Olsen and runner Angela Chalmers – both now members of the Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame. Others of note include discus thrower Jade Richardson, high jumpers Michael Mason and Paul Little, runners Kevin Friesen and Steve Osaduik and race walker Karen Foan.

But the local track club is not just for elite athletes and the club’s stated philosophy is that all members will receive equal opportunity for training and competition.

Recent research is pointed to which states that track and field develops the fundamental skills required for all land-based sports such as soccer, hockey, lacrosse, football and basketball. Without these fundamental skills athletes will never be able to reach their full potential. But more important, track and field is fun. Running, jumping and throwing are simply fun activities.

Of course home base for the track club is the beautiful Rotary Bowl, located behind Nanaimo District Secondary School. It is a first-class track and field facility which boasts a newly re-surfaced track, a separate sprint track, access for wheelchair athletes, refurbished jump areas and a grass in-field area for all throwing events.

Heading up the track club this season is president Tyler Heisterman, assisted by secretary Sue DeSchiffart and treasurer Danni Watson. Past president is Al Johnston, while James Mitchell looks after club statistics, Sherri Clare is the parent liaison and Tracy Higgins the club’s meet administrator. Wanda Kosak is the NDTFC registrar and she has been especially busy during recent weeks.

The spring and summer competitive track and field season officially began this past Tuesday, with practices now being held each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30pm and Saturdays from 10:30am until noon. Competitive training ages are from 9 (as of Dec.31 of the current year) to 35 and older. Registration for new members is being held at the Rotary Bowl clubhouse on any practice night.

Younger athletes between the ages of 6 and 8 are also welcome to register with NDTFC for non-competitive training. The popular Track Rascals program for the younger members begins on Tuesday, April 17 and provides a fun introduction to track and field basic skills, with practices set for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30pm.

For the older competitive athletes, qualified coaches will prepare them for upcoming meets. The first of those will be the George Dean Meet in Sidney on April 21-22, followed by the Bob Dailey Meet in Port Alberni on May 5-6 and then the Dogwood Meet in Victoria on May 12-13. A highlight of the season will come on May 25-27 and Nanaimo will host the annual Elwood Wylie Meet, named in honour of the local club’s founding president. Other meets will take place throughout the summer, including the B.C. Summer Games this July in Surrey and the B.C. Junior Development Championships at the end of July in Richmond.

With a solid executive committee in place, knowledgeable coaches, a top-notch training facility and an impressive strategic plan in place for future planning and Nanaimo and District Track and Field Club is a real success story in our sporting community. For more information on the club, or for registration details, contact Wanda Kosak at 250-754-1039.

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

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Saturdays.