Parks and Rec hosts ultimate track and field camp

LAKEWOOD — Marysville Parks and Recreation is once again featuring its Ultimate Summer Sports Camps, which included their annual four-day Track and Field Camp hosted by Lakewood High School from July 9-12.

"We've been doing this camp since 2007," said Dave Hall, Marysville Parks and Recreation athletic coordinator. "One of the best things about it is the level of coaching. Jeff Sowards' teams are at state every year competing. He's one of the best coaches in the state."

Sowards and Monica Rooney are both head coaches of the Lakewood High School track and field team, as well as coaches for the Parks and Recreation track camp. The camp also boasts Lakewood athletes as volunteer coaches, which keeps the camper to coach ratio pretty low and also allows the campers to be split into groups for practicing different activities.

The first day of camp brought training in field events including shot put, discus and javelin. The coaches demonstrated proper techniques for each event and campers were allowed to try their hands individually. Each camper received a personal record card for field events and races.Campers had the opportunity to play games and participate in relays. Lakewood's relay runners taught the kids how to properly hold and pass the baton during a relay. Coaches also demonstrated how to use blocks and how to run hurdles."The hurdles are always really popular," said Rooney.

The camp  also teaches high jump, long jump, triple jump, distance races and sprints. "We have quite a few kids return each year," said Rooney. "Close to 10 or 12 are returners this year." The track and field camp is one of the most popular ultimate sports camps and more than 40 kids signed up this summer.

"The campers and their parents give us great feedback every year," said Sowards, who commended the efforts of the LHS athletes. "It teaches our kids about serving the community. It's completely volunteer, there's no letter point, no pay. No other reward than serving." Rooney agreed, and added that being coaches helps the athletes learn. "It's also great for our kids to teach our events, because if you have to teach it, you learn it a different way," she said.

Other benefits of the camp, according to the coaches, includes giving exposure to events that kids would otherwise not experience. "This introduces kids to track and field. Javelin is one event we teach that they don't get to do until high school normally," said Rooney.

One Lakewood athlete is a living example — Aimee White first experienced track and field at the camp when she was in sixth grade. "I learned a lot," said White. "It showed me what I could do in high school." Now a junior, White has been successful with the javelin and credits the camp for giving her an introduction to the event."

There are some kids who are already interested in athletics and some aren't," said Rooney. "We just hope that those kids get on javelin or the hurdles and think, 'This is different. Maybe I do kind of like sports.'"

The camp included a final "Maroon vs. Gold Track Meet" on the last day, which included all the events taught through the course of the camp. It finished up with awards given to each participant and a team photo. For more information on Marysville Parks and Recreation's Ultimate Sports Camps call 360-363-8400.

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