With a wet week behind us here in south Mississippi, the sun is finally shining on the soccer fields on County Farm Road. With the sunshine, comes a group of junior athletes making their way to the fields to stretch and push their muscles. They aren’t there for soccer, though, but for track. Every Monday and Friday from January to May, the Gulf Coast Road Runners Track team meets at the soccer fields on County Farm road for practice.
To begin, Coaches Fritz and Coach Carolyn wrangle in the group of bouncing, excited youths into a circle for warmups; inchworms, lunges, squats, jump and jacks, etc. all get the body warm and ready to run. Then, it’s off for laps around the fields. The kids range in age from eight to 18 and also range in athletic ability but all are encouraged to do their best and run as far as possible. If you need to take a walk break during a lap, that’s ok too. After warm-ups and laps, the group breaks into small groups to practice individual track skills, shotput, discus, hurdle jumps, and the long jump.
According to Coach Carolyn, the practices are not just for working on skills but to encourage physical activity in youths building a love of exercise. She, herself, has a background as a physical trainer and has personally seen the benefits that a habit of physical fitness can have on the health and wellbeing of individuals. Carolyn and her assistant, Coach Fritz, want to be an active participant in fostering that in the next generation. Of course, the coaches cannot do this alone as the team has a group of active parents and assistants supporting these young athletes.
The Gulf Coast Road Runners (GCRR) was established in 2018 to offer homeschooling families on the Mississippi Gulf Coast the opportunity to participate and compete in sports. The aim of GCRR is to provide a positive environment where participation is not influenced or determined by ability, religion, ethnicity, or cultural background. GCRR’s goal is to ensure a high-quality athletic experience for every family involved. This includes positive coaching, equal participation, and the opportunity to learn life skills and lessons through the sports activities offered. Athletes will also learn and continually improve upon the skills, tactics, and strategies of the sports offered both as team players and individuals. The objective of the organization is to treat each athlete as an important and valuable member of the team and model a spirit of good sportsmanship, compassion, courage, and positivity while having fun and achieving one’s personal best.
Track season is nearing an end for this group of athletes with several upcoming meets rounding out the season. The group will then transition to long-distance running, challenging the youths to push their legs further and further. The group is hoping to eventually add other sports such as soccer and baseball, which will also all available to local homeschool families. Whatever sports are added, the goals will remain the same for this group of runners, physical fitness while having fun with friends.
If you want more information about the Gulf Coast Road Runners, please visit their website at https://gcroadrunners.wixsite.com/home.