Track and field: Northwest Flyers gear up for spring season
Northwest Flyers Track Club director Pal Roach had a simple message to the audience in the auditorium, "It starts here in this room."
Roach, is one of the coaches for the club, a track organization for youth ages 6-18. The club is affiliated with USA Track and Field.
Saturday, the club hosted a free breakfast and registration event at the Cypress Creek Christian Community Center Forum where parents could sign up their children for the upcoming track season that begins the week of April 2nd.
"It's a comprehensive track organization where we teach, train and develop athletes in all traditional events," Roach said.
According to Roach, the club was founded 24 years ago by Olympic gold medalist Fred Newhouse. When it first started, Newhouse had two members, his two daughters. Last year, Northwest Flyers had around 265 athletes, 58 of whom had qualified to compete on a national level, 36 at the Junior Olympics in Sacramento, Calif. and 22 for the Cross Country Junior Olympics in Hoover, Ala.
One of those athletes, Leslie Schilsky, competed at the Junior Olympics last summer and placed 3rd in the 400-meter hurdles.
"It was exciting, nerve-racking but fun," Schilsky said of her experience.
Schilsky, a junior at Cypress Creek High School, also competes in the 4x400 relay, the 800 and 1600 meter runs. This year will be in her fourth year with the club and looking to compete at the World Youth Championships in France later in the summer.
Those who showed up were not only treated to a presentation explaining USA Track and Field but also an appearance by former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tyrone Smith. Smith who went to Willowridge High School and Baylor University said track was a big part of his life and helped him with football.
Smith said that he stuck with track from his days in middle school to even doing workout during the off-season while in the NFL
"Track was truly an outlet for me," Smith told the audience.
Smith spoke to the youth about not being afraid to dream.
"The road to success is always under construction," he told the audience.
During Smith's speech, he challenged one of the members to a possible race, Cori Runnels, an 8th grader from Cardiff Middle School, who just so happens to be a three-time national champion in the discus event.
Runnels also competes in shot put, the 200- and 400-meter run and high jump and has been with the Flyers since she was 8-years-old.
"I always ran around a lot," Runnels said when she was younger. Runnels said her father signed her up and has loved it since.
Runnels said she likes doing both track and field events because it makes her more of an all-around person.
Roach said that several of the members that graduate to college continue competing in track and field on the collegiate level. And many of the members tour colleges during the season, tour colleges.
"The kids get to travel across the state and across the country," Roach said. "It's a great educational experience."
Roach said that every year they host a meet at Klein Stadium in May which Roach said is one of the largest meets in Texas where they have around 3,000 athletes and 5,000 spectators.
The cost to join the Northwest Flyers Club is $150 for the whole year and the first practice starts the week of Feb. 14. Roach said anyone that was interested can sign up until Feb. 14, however the club will have a second sign-up the first week of April for middle school and high schools students finishing up their season with their schools.
For more information, contact Linette Roach at Linette.Roach@sbcglobal.net or 281-587-8442.