Striders Combines Academics, Athletics

Eighty degrees and sunny one minute then 30 degrees and snowing the next; it has been another wild and wooly spring in Western New York.

Despite the changeable weather, Chautauqua Striders will begin its spring and summer track season in just a few weeks. The days through late May, June and July are packed with events and activities designed for every track and field enthusiast from the casual runner to the experienced and seriously competitive athlete.

Thursday, May 30, Chautauqua Striders will again host the Hershey Track & Field Games at Strider Field, beginning at 6 p.m. Conceived more than 30 years ago to promote youth physical fitness and provide fun, learning experiences for children 9 to 14, its popularity has consistently grown. Competing athletes will be grouped by age and gender to evenly match their abilities. The purpose of this meet is to be fun and fair for everyone.

Youth entering the Hershey Games will be able to compete in up to three events, including the 50, 100, 200 and 400 meter dashes; 800 and 1,600 meter runs; standing long jump, softball throw and 4×100 meter relay. Hersheys awards ribbons to the top eight finishers in each competition. The top two finishers in each contest will advance to the New York West State Meet. There is no cost for either meet. Please contact David Reinhardt of Chautauqua Striders at 488-2203, ext. 230, or “http://www.chautauqua-striders.org”>www.chautauqua-striders.org for details.

Chautauqua Striders is also an annual participant in The National Day of Running. This year, it is scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, and is designed to promote running as an “incredibly healthy, easy and accessible form of exercise.” Track and field organizations in major cities like New York, Boston and Chicago, along with USA Track & Field (USATF) and Running USA, are promoting the sport by hosting a variety of activities, including appearances by well-known athletes, individual and group running events, and clinics. For more information, be sure to visit www.chautauqua-striders.org.

June 10 through July 16, Summer Track & Field Development makes its annual return to Strider Field. Designed for nearly everyone, the primary focus of the program is on children and youth, 13 and under. Its purpose is to encourage and promote participation and competition in the sport of track and field. Parents of young athletes will be given an introduction to the basics, while their children will be afforded the opportunity to choose events in which they would like to compete including: sprinting, hurdling, running, jumping, vaulting and shotput. Older athletes will have the chance to learn new techniques and sharpen their skills, enabling them to “graduate” to Chautauqua Striders Track & Field Club.

Age divisions are determined by year of birth; practices are held on Monday nights beginning at 6 p.m. and development meets take place at Strider Field on Tuesday evenings, also starting at 6:00 pm. Prior to June 3, the pre-registration fee for this six-week program is $35 and includes: event instruction, meet participation, T-shirts and program awards. Limited registration will also be available on Monday, June 10, at Strider Field from 5-6 p.m.; the on-sight cost will be $40. David Reinhardt is available at 488-2203, ext. 230, to answer any questions. Additional registration forms and more information can be found at www.chautauqua-striders.org. No child will be denied the opportunity to compete, as scholarships and discounts can be arranged based on financial need.

Chautauqua Striders is always looking for ways to combine education and athletics. In line with that philosophy, it supports and participates in USATF’s “Read for Speed” program, designed specifically to encourage young people to enjoy literature. Research has shown summer reading improves preparation for the upcoming school year. Therefore, children and youth will be encouraged to delve into works by their favorite authors and topics of personal interest while on vacation. Participating youth will receive special recognition during the Development Program’s awards banquet for the number of books they have completed.

The 2013 Summer Track & Field Club begins its schedule of events at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 3, at Strider Field. Chautauqua Striders is currently accepting registration forms for athletes, ages 12-18 who would like to join this outstanding and nationally recognized track club. Those competing for their high school teams are encouraged to register in advance; forms are located on Chautauqua Striders’ website along with practice and competition schedules.

As a member of the USATF, Chautauqua Striders hosts and participates in many events throughout the United States. One of the most exciting is the USATF Niagara Junior Olympics, to be held this year at Hilton High School on Sunday, June 23. Details, entry fees and registration forms can be found at www.usatf-niagara.org. This premier competition draws 300 to 400 young athletes from across New York state, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton, and of course, Chautauqua County.

The top six qualifiers in each event from the Niagara meet will move on to compete at the USATF Region 2 meet at Strider Field, July 11-14. Chautauqua Striders recognizes what an honor it is to be chosen as a host site. When athletes and their families converged here in 2009, they were greatly impressed not only with the world-class facilities at Strider Field but also the beauty of this area and the friendliness of its people. The top five finishers in the Region 2 track meet will have the privilege of competing at the USATF National Championships at North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, N.C.

Chautauqua Striders strongly supports a healthy lifestyle for everyone and is proud to sponsor these exciting track and field events. Promoting physical well-being, providing support for athletes of all ages, and allowing for family-centered activities are just some of the reasons to consider making time for fun and fitness during the spring and summer months. Be active; get involved; enjoy life.