Youth running: Come as you are


My runner’s heart is smiling. Full-toothed. You see, youth sports are featured in news stories all of the time. For better or worse. But running? And youth running, at that? Not a lot of ink. Last week, however, two different stories caught my eye. And they weren’t even just youth running stories; they were inspirational youth running stories.
Enter Meghan Vogel from West Liberty, Ohio. Meghan had just won the 1600 meter run and up next was the 3200 meter. At the state track meet, mind you. As she came into her final stretch, a competitor, yes COMPETITOR, fell down in front of her. Without hesitation, Meghan helped the other runner up and supported her to finish the race and cross the finish line together. Actually, the result was that Meghan came in after her competitor. (article here)
Like I said, my runner’s heart is smiling. Seen as an “individual sport” many don’t understand the full camaraderie that occurs between runners. In my humble opinion, knowing someone else is as insane as you for loving the sport, builds a bond just as strong as any “team” sport. The chatter, encouragement and can-do attitude that occurs amongst runners in any given race is truly special to the sport and sure makes me proud to be a runner.
Enter Franklin Park Borough in Pennsylvania. A recent article featured their community and their involvement in Ready, Set, Run! The focus of the article? The teamwork that has been such a key element in the success of their running program and the entire community that they have effected. (article here)
As the director of a character-building, goal-setting youth running program, the fire in my heart is burning even hotter than usual. Running encourages kids to come as they are, no special skills required. But it also challenges them to set goals and push themselves and, in doing that, encouraging other runners seems to come naturally. Not always, of course. But when done correctly, it’s a beautiful thing and quite unique to the sport. In the words of Meghan Vogel, "I knew any girl on that field would do that for me so I was going to do that for Arden." She just knew.
Yes, it’s been a good week to be a runner. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

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