Track and field: Parents keep meet on track

Elementary track meet runs at Haley Park on Thursday

Parents are determined not to let the current labour interruption between teachers and the B.C. Government interfere with their childrens’ sporting needs.

Following the cancellation of the Elementary School Track Meet by School District 20 last week, parents have rallied to keep the annual event on track.

“The notice went out that the track meet was cancelled and my daughter was really furious,” said Warfield mom Amy Shields. “I had made a Facebook post about it asking if anyone else’s kid is as angry as mine?”

Shields received numerous replies including one from fellow parent Peter Sheets  who had spoken with Trail Track and Field Club coach Dan Horan. The longtime track coach and Canadian Royal Legion Track Meet organizer recommended running the track meet through the Track Club and B.C. Athletics for insurance purposes.

“It will be a sanctioned meet through B.C. Athletics, and the kids have qualified, and the schools will provide the documentation, but there won’t be any teachers running it; it will be totally parents, and people like me,” said Horan.

Young track athletes had already qualified for the district meet after competing in their respective school meets, and have been training hard for the big day until it was cancelled just two days prior to the first race.

Shields went to the various Parent Advisory Councils (PAC) where she enlisted numerous volunteers and much needed support. Wanting to get the event back on as soon as possible, they rescheduled it for Thursday.

“They’re really great and really active, so you just call them up and tell them anything that’s for the kids in these schools they’re all over it,” said Shields. “They’re moms on a mission when they get down to something.”

When SD 20 withdrew its support, superintendent Greg Luterback made it clear that the district would not be able to support the meet, which included withdrawing everything from teacher participation and insurance, to school T-shirts and transportation.

Yet parents continue to hammer out solutions, even solving the major hurdle of getting athletes to Haley Park.

The District Parents Advisory Council (DPAC) agreed to pay for Trail Transit to transport athletes from Fruitvale and Robson-Castlegar to Haley Park in Warfield and back, almost certainly ensuring a decent turnout for the event.

Organizers have recruited close to 40 parents to help run the meet, and have a long list of parents willing to step in to act as team coaches and leaders, timers, statisticians, and starters. The group has  even secured the services of local bag-piping legend Gordon Titsworth to marshall in the opening ceremonies.

“It’s coming together, and it’s really become a community effort especially with all the parents and the PACs on board . . . I’m excited to see actually everyone really pulling together and making it happen. Because we weren’t too sure what it was going to look like, then these little hurdles keep getting tossed out there.”

The annual meet draws close to 300 students which compete in over 100 events and has been running for over 70 years. There will be a slight change to some of the events to conform to the long-term athletic development plan of B.C. Athletics.

“This meet has a big history, it’s a district meet, and the kids around here don’t get that many opportunities to compete in  track and field . . . it seemed kind of just wrong for them not to get that chance when they’ve been practising and working towards it.”

The meet will hit the starting blocks at 8:30 a.m. and wrap up around 3 p.m.