The St. Charles Striders of the Amateur Athletic Union have qualified 34 track and field athletes to participate in the Junior Olympics in Knoxville, Tenn from July 27 until August 4.
Coaches Cardell Brown and Nat Henry have been helping the team hone their skills before the Olympics, which will take place at the University of Tennessee at Tom Black Stadium.
Brown said he has athletes from ages 8-18 that will be running the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, the 100-meter hurdles, the 400 meter hurdles, the steeplechase “and every other track event there is.” There’s only one event nobody on the team takes place in and that’s the pole vault.
“Only thing we don’t have is a pole vaulter,” Brown said. “They’re kind of hard to find. It’s also the only thing I don’t know how to teach.”
Out of 66 kids total on the team, more than half qualified for the Olympics, quite a feat Brown said considering the kids compete in what is probably the second toughest region in the nation.
“Each region has about 2,000 kids, so it’s a pretty big field to compete in,” he said. “Only four kids in each age group qualify at the regional meets, which was held at Tad Gormley Stadium. Those kids go on to the Junior Olympics.”
At the Olympics in Tennessee, the qualifying Striders will compete against athletes from all 50 states, Brown said, so it will be simply the best of the best. He’s confident his kids will do well, as is 25-year coaching veteran Nat Henry.
Henry started off coaching track so many years ago with the Greater New Orleans Streakers, and loves every minute of it as is evident by his smile on the field. Henry, like Brown volunteers his time to coach the young athletes but he said the kids play a big role in their own success.
“We have good kids and good training,” Henry said. “The kids gotta be good to be able to be trained,”
But it’s not just the kids and coaches who put forth the effort, Brown said. Parents of the team members go out of their way to lend a hand however possible.
“We’ve got some good parents that help us out too,” he said. “Not all of them are committed but the ones that are have been really committed.”
The St. Charles Striders are also seeking donations to help offset expences of their trip and ask that anyone interested in giving contact Cardell Brown at (985) 331-1202 or Mikki Gaubert at (504) 234-4509.