Eighty degrees and sunny one minute, 30 degrees and snowing the next; it has been a wild and wooly spring! Despite the changeable weather, in just a few weeks, Chautauqua Striders will begin its track season in earnest. Late May, June and July are packed with events and activities designed for every track and field enthusiast from the casual runner to the experienced and seriously competitive athlete.
On Friday, June 1, Chautauqua Striders will again host the Hershey Track & Field Games at Strider Field, beginning at 6 p.m. This program was conceived more than 30 years ago to "promote youth physical fitness and provide fun, learning experiences for children 9 to 14 years old." (Copies of birth certificates will be required to verify age; 9- to 10-year-olds born in 2002-2003.) Competing athletes will be grouped by age and gender so abilities will be well-matched. While there are a few other rules and regulations, this meet is designed to be fair and fun for everyone.
Chautauqua Striders is excited to announce that for the first time a Hershey's Track & Field Games will also be held in Dunkirk on May 30, beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Dunkirk High School. Those entering either of these meets will be able to compete in up to three events, including the 50-, 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes; 800- and 1600-meter run; standing long jump, softball throw and 4x100 meter relay. The top two finishers in each contest will receive ribbons and advance to the New York West State meet at Ilion High School on June 16. There is no cost for either competition! Please contact David Reinhardt of Chautauqua Striders at 488-2203, ext. 230, or www.chautauqua-striders.org, or Andrew Burnside of Dunkirk City Schools Track at 863-5062 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about these exciting competitions.
Chautauqua Striders is also an annual participant in the National Day of Running. This year it is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6, and is designed to promote running as an "incredibly healthy, easy, and accessible form of exercise." Track and field organizations in major cities, such as New York, Boston, and Chicago, along with USA Track & Field (USATF) and Running USA, are promoting the sport by hosting a variety of activities, including appearances by well-known athletes, individual running events, group runs and clinics. For more information, visit www.chautauqua-striders.org.
June 11-July 17, Summer Track & Field Development makes its return to Strider Field. Designed for nearly everyone, the primary focus of the program is placed on children and youth 13 and under, and 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 sport, while their children will be afforded the opportunity to choose events in which they would like to compete, such as sprinting, hurdling, running, jumping, vaulting or shot-putting, to name a few. Older athletes will have the chance to learn new techniques and sharpen their basic skills, enabling them to "graduate" to Chautauqua Striders Track & Field Club.
Competitive divisions are determined by year of birth; practices take place on Monday nights beginning at 6 p.m., and development meets are held at Strider Field on Tuesday evenings beginning at 6 p.m. The pre-registration fee for this six-week program, prior to June 4, is $35 and includes event instruction, meet participation, T-shirts and program awards. Limited registration will also be available on Monday, June 11, at Strider Field from 5 to 6 p.m.; the cost will be $40 after June 4. David Reinhardt is available at 488-2203, ext. 230, to answer questions, or 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. (Online registration for individuals or families is also available through www.active.com; however, a $3.95 processing fee will be added to the basic cost.)
Chautauqua Striders is always looking for ways to tie education and athletics together. Along those lines, it supports and participates in USATF's "Read for Speed" program, designed specifically to encourage students to read. Research has shown summer reading improves preparation for the upcoming school year. Therefore, students will be encouraged to read during the summer and will receive special recognition during the Development Program's awards banquet for the number of books they have completed.
The 2012 Summer Track & Field Club begins its schedule of events at 5:30 p.m. on June 4 at Strider Field. Chautauqua Striders is currently accepting registration forms for athletes, ages 13-18, 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.)
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, being held this year at Hilton High School on Sunday, June 24. 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. The top six qualifiers in each event will move on to the USATF Region 2 meet at the University of Delaware, July 5-9. From there, the top three finishers in each Region 2 event will have qualified to compete at the USATF National Championships at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., July 23-29.
Chautauqua Striders strongly supports a healthy lifestyle for everyone and is proud to sponsor these exciting track and field events. Promoting physical well-being, 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. Be active; get involved; enjoy life!