Special to the OBSERVER
In 2014, Chautauqua Striders is celebrating 35 years of youth development in Chautauqua County. As it was first known, the Chadakoin Valley Athletic Club provided a constructive outlet for youth on Jamestown's north side. The organization's co-founders, Ron Graham and Daniel Feather, served not only as coaches but as mentors for the young athletes. Track and field practices were held at Washington Middle School and it was not long before participants were receiving national recognition. The need for a better practice facility and location to host local track and field meets led to the construction of Strider Field in 1990. Since then, Strider Field has become the hub of athletic activity in Chautauqua County.
Starting on June 9 and continuing through July 15, the Summer Track & Field Development Program makes its annual return to Strider Field. Proving that track and field is a sport for everyone, the primary focus of the program is on children and youth 13 and under; its purpose is " to encourage and promote participation and competition in the sport of track and field." Parents of young athletes will be given an introduction to the basics, while their children will be afforded the opportunity to choose events in which they would like to compete including: sprinting, hurdling, running, jumping, vaulting and shot-put. Older athletes will have the chance to learn new techniques and sharpen their skills, enabling them to "graduate" to Chautauqua Striders Track & Field Club.
Age divisions are determined by year of birth. Practices are held at 6 p.m. on Monday nights, and development meets take place at Strider Field on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. Prior to June 3, the pre-registration fee for this six-week program is $40 and includes: event instruction, meet participation, T-shirts and program awards. Limited registration will also be available on Monday, June 10 at Strider Field from 5 to 6 p.m.; the on-sight cost will be $45. David Reinhardt is available at 488-2203 ext. 221 to answer any questions. Additional registration forms and more information can be found at www.chautauqua-striders.org. No child will be denied the opportunity to compete, as scholarships and discounts can be arranged based on financial need.
The 2014 Summer Track & Field Club begins its schedule of events at 5:30 p.m. on June 2, at Strider Field. Chautauqua Striders is currently accepting registration forms for athletes, ages 12-18 who would like to join this outstanding and nationally recognized track club. (Those competing for their high school teams are encouraged to register in advance; forms are located on Chautauqua Striders' website along with practice and competition schedules.)
Chautauqua Striders is always looking for ways to combine education and athletics. In line with that philosophy, it supports and participates in USA Track &?Field's "Read for Speed" program, designed specifically to encourage young people to enjoy literature. Research has shown summer reading improves preparation for the upcoming school year; therefore, children and youth will be encouraged to delve into works by their favorite authors and topics of personal interest while on vacation. Participating youth will receive special recognition during the Development Program's awards banquet for the number of books they have completed. As a member of the USATF, Chautauqua Striders hosts and participates in many events throughout the United States. One of the most exciting is the USATF Niagara Junior Olympics, to be held this year at Penfield High School on Sunday, June 22. Details, entry fees, and registration forms can be found at www.usatf-niagara.org. This premier competition draws 300-400 young athletes from across New York state, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Binghamton, and of course, Chautauqua County.
The top six qualifiers in each event from the Niagara meet will move on to compete at the USATF Region 2 meet at Richard Stockton State in Pomona, N.J. The top five finishers at the USATF Region 2 track meet will have the privilege of competing at the USATF National Championships in Houston, Texas.
Chautauqua Striders is also an annual participant in The National Day of Running. This year, it is scheduled for Wednesday, June 4, and is designed to promote running as an " incredibly healthy, easy, and accessible form of exercise." Track and field organizations in major cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago, along with USATF and Running USA, are promoting the sport by hosting a variety of activities, including appearances by well-known athletes, individual and group running events, and clinics. For more information, be sure to visit www.chautauqua-striders.org.
Chautauqua Striders strongly supports a healthy lifestyle for everyone and is proud to sponsor these exciting track and field events. Promoting health & wellness, providing support for athletes of all ages, and allowing for family-centered activities are just some of the reasons to consider making time for fun and fitness during the spring and summer months. To help our community become more active, involved, and live healthier lifestyles; Chautauqua Striders has added a Health & Wellness component to programs. The Health & Wellness component will allow the organization to enhance and expand current programming to reach more youth and adults. Similar to cross training, we want to provide our young people and with an opportunity to exercise both their body and mind. As part of our tutoring, mentoring, or advocacy sessions youth will also learn:
Importance of a healthy and active lifestyle
Living a drug free and safe life
Online classroom brain breaks through www.gonoodle.com
We will also offer new programs to adults through both community and work-based programs. These programs will teach proper walking and running techniques as well as how to train for a 5K or half marathon. There will also be small group programs and opportunities to partner with businesses that would like to help their employees achieve new levels of fitness activities.
Originally founded in 1979 as a local track club, Chautauqua Striders has since developed into a multi-faceted community organization, proudly offering diversified programs that incorporate its mission to "mentor and guide youth through education, advocacy and athletics." The not-for-profit agency, based in Jamestown provides tutoring, mentoring, outreach and athletic programs to more than 1,800 Chautauqua County youth annually. The goal of Chautauqua Striders is to help youth graduate high school inspired with the knowledge, skills and confidence required for successful college and career experiences.