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Davis Journal

Growing youth track club back for spring season

Mar 08, 2021 02:22PM ● By Catherine Garrett

The Davis Race Cats track program for kids aged 8 to 15 has been growing the past few years and it is expanding this year with an Elementary option to go along with its competition team. The focus on fun, personal improvement, teamwork and consistency with the overall theme,“Have Fun, Work Hard, Dream Big” remains the same.

The program was formed first in the Salt Lake County area by former Bountiful All-State runner Nanette Evans Kennard – who went on to be a two-time All-American at BYU. Her efforts have helped bring more than 1,000 participants statewide to the running scene over the past few years. Kaysville’s Jami Valentine Caldwell, who was a four-time All-Region runner at Davis High, is now the president of the organization while also directing Davis Race Cats locally.

“Leading this program is so rewarding for me,” Caldwell said. “My main goal is to help these kids develop a love of moving, being outside and hopefully a love of running. The program is designed to help kids of all abilities with a range of goals. Some kids want to improve their mile time, some want to make it to nationals and some want to finish a race without stopping. There is a place for all of these kids in our program. In the elementary program we focus on games and having fun, in the elite program, we do more structured running and goal setting, but it's always about fun over winning. It’s a great place to learn hard work, teamwork, make friends and learn to love being active.”

The elementary program – which is $90 – lasts for six weeks. Practices will be held after school at various local schools. Two meets will be held during the season with participants allowed to compete in three events. For this group, the events will be the 100 meters, 400 meters, 1600 meters, javelin, shot put (softball throw) and the long jump. Currently, the Davis Race Cats will have teams practicing at Ellison Park, J.A. Taylor, Columbia, Burton, Jefferson, Syracuse and Odyssey but are unaffiliated with those schools beyond using their facilities. 

Caldwell said a few more teams could be added if there are people willing to coach who have an enthusiasm for helping children and would be able to pass a background check. 

“They don’t need to be an expert in track,” she said. “We’ll provide equipment and lesson plans with coaches receiving a stipend for helping.”

The 10-week competitive track program costs $215 for ages 7 and up will be limited to 75 runners and practice Monday and Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Layton High School from April through June. The program, sanctioned by USA Track and Field, will have participants receive agility training for events in sprints, distance, hurdles, long jump, high jump, javelin and shot put. Caldwell headlines a coaching staff that also includes former collegiate athletes and high school coaches Jamie West, Shauna Cox, Erin Flint and Jeremiah West. Additional minimal fees for each meet will be assessed in addition to needing a $20 USATF membership for each participant.

“I’ve loved watching my kids be part of Race Cats.” Stephen Clay, who has children in the program, said. “Coach Jami and the other coaches are awesome. They make it super fun and a positive environment. There’s great camaraderie even among competitors. They help them set goals and work hard to achieve them. They push them to be the best they can be.”

Registration – which will stay open until April 5 – can be completed and more information found at www.racecats.org. Scholarships are available for families that may need them by contacting [email protected]

“We didn’t have a season last year because of COVID, so we’re extra excited for the season this year,” Caldwell said. “Our program is all about fun, fitness, self-confidence and friends. Track has something for everyone. It’s a great way for your kids to work on coordination, agility, endurance and speed. It’s also just a really great way to get them outside! I know we’ve been inside and on screens more than ever and I feel like my kids need physical activity more than ever! We focus on improvement, teamwork and friendships and competition is just a fun side note.”