Track club seeks members ages 4-18
If you’re looking for an activity to absorb your child’s boundless energy, the Tiger Youth Track Club (TYTC) may be the answer. The Tigers are recruiting boys and girls, ages 4-18. Registration is Feb. 22 and 29, 1-4 p.m., at the Heights Community Center, 1 Monticello Blvd.
TYTC is part of the Cleveland Heights Tigers Youth Sports Association (CHTYSA), a nonprofit, community-based athletic and recreational program dedicated to the development of elementary school children in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District. Since 2014, more than 300 children have participated in the track club.
“There were quite a few track clubs around the area, but none in the Heights,” said Derrick Fair, head coach and one of the founding members of the club, and a former assistant coach for Heights High's varsity men’s track and field. “It was frustrating to see so many of our kids running for other summer track clubs,” he said. “We got with the athletic director and the varsity coach and put a club together. It’s been a much-needed asset to the school district and the city ever since.”
In a city that boasts an active and thriving recreation department, the addition of track and field, along with youth wrestling, football and cheerleading, provides children with choices to keep them active and, of course, tired late into the evenings.
“My daughter absolutely loves this program,” said Nicole Hodge, Heights High graduate and mother of Na’Kyla Ford, a sixth-grader who ranked fifth in the nation in shotput in 2018. “We had no idea she would take so well to track and field. It’s been life-changing for her. Hopefully, she’ll continue and land a college scholarship.”
“We do our best to give the kids in our program positive instruction that is both fun and rigorous,” said Coach Sierra Simmons, assistant director. “We work them hard, but not too hard where they no longer enjoy running. If the kids don’t come back the following year, or develop a love for running, then we’re not doing our jobs as coaches.”
“Developing a love of running and competing is huge at this age level,” added Fair. “The high school program greatly benefits from the youth club’s existence. We work hand-in-hand with the school district and recreation department. Both have been very supportive in keeping this program thriving. We are very fortunate, as other clubs don’t get half the support that we do.”
The support has started to pay off: 29 athletes qualified for the American Athletic Union (AAU) National Championships held in North Carolina last year. “Those kids worked hard all spring and summer,” said Simmons. “It’s always a blessing when we can take so many athletes out of state to compete. It gives them something to shoot for during the season, especially those high school and middle school athletes who continue to train into the summer.”
“We are very excited about the kids we have returning for 2020,” said Fair. “Our goal is to have over 100 kids running with us this year. But in order to do that, we’re going to need a few more coaches,” he said with a laugh. “If anyone is interested in joining our staff, we’d love to have you.”
Visit the Tigers' website at www.heightstigersyouthsports.org or like its Facebook page for more information. If interested in volunteering as a coach, contact Fair at 216-773-6075 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Payne, a biomedical researcher at Case Western Reserve University, serves as president/executive director for the Cleveland Heights Tigers Youth Sports Association Inc., and vice president of North Coast Youth Football Conference.