LANDOVER — So, a bunch of middle schoolers who have never done track and field before attend a few practices and then go the big city and face hundreds of opponents from well established teams.
Sounds like a rough day, right?
Not if the kids are from the Dorchester Vikings Youth Track and Field Team. The 11-, 12- and 13-year-old boys have been getting up early Saturday mornings to learn sprints and shot put, just getting things started.
Coaches and athletes weren’t sure what to expect at the Prince George’s County Recreation Center on Sunday, when they competed at their first-ever meet, but when results started coming in, there were plenty of smiles among the children the proud adults leading them.
Derek Coleman is head coach, assisted by his brother Jordan and “Doc” Widmaier.
Seeing a need for additional, and healthful, youth activities, Coach Derek pulled together resources and invited players from his Pop Warner football team to get the middle school-age track and field program going. The team is not affiliated with Dorchester County Public Schools.
So, the group of parents, kids and coaches met at 6:20 a.m. Sunday, and set out for their first meet.
“It was a very encouraging day,” a tired but exultant Coach Derek wrote on Sunday evening. “Lot of kids put themselves out there and gave their best, no matter where they were in the race at the moment. It was a great environment for the kids, hopefully at the least we exposed them to some talent they otherwise would never have completed against.”
“Prince George’s County has some of the best athletes in the country, if you look at D1 scholarships for football and basketball from that county. Our kids competed and, in a lot of cases, succeeded. It was a developmental event, perfect for where we are right now,” he said.
It wasn’t just small, local teams, though.
“Two extremely serious, and large track programs showed up, one from Northern Virginia and one from PG County,” Coach Derek said. “There were around 200 kids just between those two teams. Top notch programs, with 10-12 coaches there for each program.”
The new team has been practicing at the Bay Country Racquet Club on Leonard’s Lane in Cambridge. “ George Obermier is an incredible resource for this community, and has worked with us for two months. I highly recommend him and his facility for people looking for indoor sports,” the coach said.
Only so many can use the space at a time, though. Coaches are working on plans to expand the program.
“I am very confident that Recreation and Parks will have a solution that will allow for instructional-level track and field skills to be taught to groups of 30 kids at a time. We are working on that with Frank Stout, and anyone who would like to help can contact me on Facebook or Frank. We are still working out details, but it is going to happen so boys and girls can participate.”
Coaches of the county’s high school track and field teams are pleased to see the team get going. Some counties, such as Queen Anne’s, have middle school track and field programs that function as feeders for their high schools. That means North Dorchester and Cambridge-South Dorchester athletes often face pretty tough and experienced competition.
Results Sunday were promising, though the young men had a certain handicap that maybe only a coach would spot - sneakers. All the other athletes ran or jumped in spikes - but the Vikings still placed highly.
“I can’t list all the top 6 finishes because there were a lot, and I don’t want to forget any,” Coach Derek said. “But we appreciate all the support.”
It’s probably worth mentioning Isaiah Jones, though - young Mr. Jones won the long jump.
The first time he ever tried the event.
David Dodson is well known on the Delmarva youth sports scene, especially for his technical abilities.
“That is awesome,” Mr. Dodson said. “It’s great seeing kids just going out and competing, no matter what it is in. It will help you in anything you do in life. Compete, get better, work hard and compete again.”
For full results, visit https://www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/MeetResults.aspx?Meet=352170&show=all
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave Ryan volunteers as a coach with this team and with the C-SD team.