Off and running: Coooper Track Club makes a splashPublished 11:54am Thursday, May 22, 2014
The newest youth recreational program on the block has exploded out of the gates, making a splash in competition. The newly formed Cooper Track Club recently had its first meet as a team in Phenix City, and came away with quite the haul. Competing against teams from Phenix City, Selma and Columbus, Ga., the CTC won 19 medals (six gold, eight silver, five bronze).
The team – consisting of Gabriel Cox, MacKenzie Welch, Gabrielle Cox, Adrianna Flowers, TeKerra Welch and Jared Glenn – came together on a whim.
“We pulled the kids from our basketball and softball teams at the center,” said Cooper Community Center director Michael Goggans. “After we heard about other rec programs with track teams and given that there wasn’t a program like this around our area, we figured it would be great exposure for our youth. We asked if they wanted to participate and they all agreed. From there, we started practicing and working out.”
Connections of team coach Calvin Holtzclaw came into play when it was time to find a venue for the CTC to show off their athletic abilities.
Competing in 100-, 200-, 400-, 800-, 1600-meter runs as well as events like the long jump and softball (shotput) throw, Holtzclaw said the local youngsters took the rest of the competition by storm.
“For most of our kids, it was their first time doing something like this, even though we had several practices beforehand,” Holtzclaw said. “It was really surprising to see how well they did against kids who were competing in their fifth and sixth such events. We were kind of like the underdogs out there – we surprised everyone.”
The CTC performed so well, Holtzclaw said, that other teams invited them to compete in other districts. For now, though, the focus isn’t on moving districts but rather getting young athletes-in-waiting involved from the surrounding areas.
“We want to get kids from Dadeville, New Site and so on involved,” he said. “That way, we’ll really have our area’s finest when we go back next year.”
Goggans said the team’s inaugural season couldn’t have gone any better.
“Calvin’s done a great job of getting the team organized and ready to compete,” Goggans said. “We’re looking to grow over the next couple of years, but this year was where we started to build a foundation, and it was an excellent year. It’s also something the area needs.”
In addition to providing a new outlet for the area’s youth, the CTC will prepare the youths for future exploits for the Benjamin Russell Wildcats.
“With the high school track team being on the rise and having several people compete at state, we hope we can start to prepare our kids to run for BRHS in the years to come,” Goggans said.
Currently, the CTC is awaiting official results from its most recent meet, a state competition in Greenville that took place on May 16. The CTC competed against 15 other recreational programs’ track teams, with the top performers earning a spot in the nationals, which take place in Hershey, Penn., on July 31.
The Outlook will report the CCT’s results from the state competition as soon as they are available.