Track Kicks Off the City of Columbia 2009 Summer Youth Program
June 8, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina Track and Field and the City of Columba Parks and Recreation kicked off the 2009 Summer Program Friday morning, June 5, at Weems Baskin Track. Former USC Associate Athletics Director for Academics Harold White heads up the program working with officials from the City of Columbia.
White explains this as a great opportunity for young people to be exposed to college campuses and meet the student athletes at the University of South Carolina. The kids in the program learn the fundamentals of sports, get to talk with the Gamecocks and get to know what it means to be a Gamecock from an early age.
Track and field was the first sports camp of the list of eight events that will take place this summer. Head Coach Curtis Frye, who was recently awarded the Order of the Palmetto presented by the governor and considered the state's highest civilian honor, was on hand to coach the youth in attendance from M.L. King and Woodlands Park, and he even took the time to race a few of the young athletes.
"We consider programs like this an investment," Frye said. "Too often we pick the fruit from the tree and forget that the tree needs food and fertilizer to grow. We are trying to feed the community tree here in Columbia so there will be many fruitful years to follow. These kids are our future doctors, lawyers, teachers and community leaders; they are here on campus being introduced to the possibilities of their futures. I hope they see the student-athletes here at Carolina as an example of success to strive for athletically but most importantly academically, and possibly look to sports as one of the means to getting an education. We are making great memories for these kids and are happy to join the City of Columbia in this program and the investment in the community's youth."
In its third year, the program was created by Harold White to introduce youth to new recreational activities and provide them with an experience on the University of South Carolina's main campus. The program includes events with Gamecock football, basketball, equestrian, volleyball, track and field, swimming & diving and cheering. The program will include trips to the Weems Baskin Track, The Strom Thurmond Wellness Center and Equestrian's One Wood Farm. A different group of kids from various parks around the city will participate each week.
"The Youth Program was developed with three goals in mind: to provide the kids exposure to the University of South Carolina campus, to have youth in the area interact with Gamecock student-athletes and to introduce kids to Gamecock athletes to learn the fundamentals of good sportsmanship," White said. "In collaboration with the City of Columbia, we came up with this program in 2007 around the same time I announced my retirement from SC Athletics. This was an ideal way to stay involved with the Gamecock family and support the youth in the City of Columbia. We are proud of the fact that over 300 children participate in the event each summer."
At the City of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation, young athletes are exposed to a range of sports from basketball to golf. Novices and experts alike are encouraged to develop their skills in sports such as tennis and baseball, and to learn new skills such as how to serve in volleyball and how to swim.
"We work with the kids all summer to expose them to sport and recreation," said Corrine Taylor, a South Carolina graduate and the Athletics Specialist for the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation. "They are well aware of the important of physical activity, health and wellness. Coming out here and working with the Gamecocks is icing on the cake. We are working on track in our summer curriculum now, and the kids actually know the fundamentals of the warm-up drills the Gamecocks are showing them, so it makes it more fun for everyone.
The program will continue on Friday June 19 at the Strom Thurmond Wellness Center with the South Carolina swimming and diving team.