Even with temperatures dropping and snow falling on the ground, the Trail Track and Field Club (TTFC) is going strong, meeting twice a week at the Willi Krause Fieldhouse to fine-tune and train up-and-coming young athletes.
The TTFC has seen significant growth this season, with over 20 young athletes attending the workouts at the Fieldhouse.
“We’re in the Fieldhouse Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said TTFC coach Dan Horan. “I have lots of young kids, but also a half dozen 14-15 year olds. They’re coming out of the woodwork.”
The influx of high school age athletes is refreshing for Horan, after seeing most secondary schools in the area restructure their school sports programs and essentially drop their track and field teams.
“It would still be nice to have someone in the school run a program, because then you would get more high school age kids, but it is what it is,” said Horan. “It (TTFC) is a junior development club (ages 9-13) basically.”
The opportunities for local high-school aged athletes is limited. While the athletes can compete in club events, secondary school regional and provincial meets are inaccessible due to the absence of a school team.
“One of the problems you have is you have to qualify. High School sports is different, in that, what you have to do is be registered through your school through BC school sports, in order to qualify.”
Still the hard work is paying off and Horan has six athletes that have the potential to compete in the 2016 BC Summer Games.
This past summer, TTFC athletes shone at B.C. events, winning nine medals at the Kamloops Track and Field Club’s Centennial meet, and taking home a number of medals and top-10 finishes at the Jack Brow Memorial Meet in Kelowna.
Competitors like Sadie Joyce, Jendaya Shields, and Finley Kinghorn did outstanding with top finishes in their respective events. But it was first-year athletes like nine-year-old Ella Phillips-Frisk that really made an impression on Horan. Phillips-Frisk seized the moment to win gold in the long jump and bronze in 60-metre hurdles at the Jack Brow Meet.
“Ella was a sleeper,” says Horan, who has shown incredible progress since joining the club from Trail Rec’s “Run, Jump, Throw,” an introductory track and field program for young athletes.
“She came out of ‘Run, Jump, Throw’ last fall, and then I talked to her mother, and I said, ‘If she wants to come and do track it’s Tuesdays and Thursdays.’ So she did come and she improved, and then this year, you can see, it’s like night and day.”
The TTFC also upgraded its equipment recently thanks to a grant from Columbia Basin Trust.
Along with its state of the art “Meet Manager” computer program, the club purchased an electronic timing device to make running track meets more seamless.
Horan and his wife Lina have been tireless in their commitment to TTFC, organizing and running annual events like the Royal Canadian Legion Meet and SD 20 Elementary School Meet, as well as the Silver City Days Fun Run and similar races.
The Horans have been at the forefront of Greater Trail track and field for decades. Dan competed when he was in school and joined the Trail Track and Field Club in 1964. His coach, Willi Krause, eventually eased Horan into coaching in the mid-70s, and he has been doing it ever since.
“Willi got me into coaching without me really knowing it,” said Horan. “I was in my mid-20s and still training to keep in shape and he started off giving me the sprinters to do the same running program as I did.”
Thanks to the Horans, the club endures today and despite its ups and downs, Dan Horan continues to develop young athletes with the same passion and commitment as his predecessor Krause.