Track stars gather to teach the basics, encourage love of sport

Print Article

  • Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo Olympian Willie Banks gives a helpful lesson in Mattawa on Saturday.

  • 1

    Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo An array of different Olympians were at Wahluke High School over the weekend for a fun day of learning and instruction.

  • 2

    Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo A Wahluke High School student does her best to keep her form perfect while going over a hurdle.

  • 3

    Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo A Wahluke High School student does her best to keep her form perfect while going over a hurdle.

  • 4

    Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo A Wahluke High School student does his best to keep his form perfect while going over a hurdle.

  • Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo Olympian Willie Banks gives a helpful lesson in Mattawa on Saturday.

  • 1

    Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo An array of different Olympians were at Wahluke High School over the weekend for a fun day of learning and instruction.

  • 2

    Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo A Wahluke High School student does her best to keep her form perfect while going over a hurdle.

  • 3

    Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo A Wahluke High School student does her best to keep her form perfect while going over a hurdle.

  • 4

    Charles H. Featherstone/courtesy photo A Wahluke High School student does his best to keep his form perfect while going over a hurdle.

MATTAWA — Turns out, you can’t run the hurdles without your arms.

“Your arms are your levers,” said Andre Phillips, winner of the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. “If your arms aren’t right, your legs won’t be right.”

So Phillips, on a brisk early spring Saturday, showed a group of middle school and high school runners from across the state gathered at the Wahluke High School track some of the boring and tedious drills — beginning with a slow-motion walk over closely spaced hurdles to strengthen hip muscles and practice the proper placement of feet — he did daily to win Olympic gold.

“These drills are slow and methodical and a pain, but they’re necessary,” Phillips said, adding. “If it feels awkward, then you’re doing it right.”

And the kids did the leg lifts, practiced pulling their lead foot up properly and where they should put their arms when they hurdle. They did this over and over and over again.

“It’s about teaching them,” said Willie Banks, a former Olympian who is currently the principal of Stagg High School in Stockton, California. “Kids learn best when you’re making it relevant, when you bring the real world stuff in.”

“There’s no need to yell or get mad,” he added. “It’s just practice.”

Phillips was one of eight Olympians, former record holders and star athletes who were in Mattawa on Friday and Saturday as part of the Willie Banks World Record Camp to help young track and field athletes improve and expand their skills.

Along with Phillips were sprint coach Gregg Simmons, long jump gold medalist and record holder Mike Powell, discus thrower Jared Schuurmans, marathon champion Jacqueline Hansen, Olympic high jumper and volleyball player Erin Aldrich, Olympic marathoner and cross country champion Doris Heritage, and Banks himself, an Olympic gold medalist and world record high jumper.

“This is something a lot of us started about 10 years ago,” Banks said. “We wanted to do something young people, we wanted to Olympians together to help them out.”

It’s the second year in a row Banks’ World Record Camp has been in Mattawa, drawing nearly 200 kids from as far away as Walla Walla and Davenport.

“We’re just trying to grow out program,” said Wahluke High School Track and Field Coach Joel Dugan. “We’ve got every kind of size and school here, and every event.”

For Dugan, track and field is a “pure” event that allows athletes to perform unjudged and ungraded.

“Your time is your time and your distance is your distance,” Dugan said. “There’s no judgment, no opinions. You are what your numbers say you are.”

“Track is fun,” said silver medalist Powells. “You don’t have to be an Olympian to have fun. You don’t have to be great to be on the team. Everybody gets off the bench. Everybody gets to participate.”

According to Banks, the day-long clinic was not just for the kids, either. It’s just as important to have coaches attend as well.

“We need someone to remember the information that we give to the kids because they’re out here having fun and learning stuff but the coaches can help take that information and translate it when we’re done,” Banks said.

“That’s why we’re doing this,” he added.

And there are coaches, helping kids, watching closely, listening carefully, scribbling notes. Monty Soliday, a junior high track coach from Davenport, watches closely while Phillips shows his daughter Darby how to point her leading foot and later where her arm should go when she leaps a hurdle.

“We’re going to learn hopefully as much as the kids,” Soliday said.

Print Article

Read More Sports

Bernie Garza Jr. continuing stellar senior year in soccer

April 17, 2019 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald OTHELLO — Bernie Garza Jr. sprinted forward from his midfield position to join an attack with teammate Juan Tapia. Head coach Bernie Garza Sr. commented from the sideline how his son previously wo...

Comments

Read More

South County roundup: Othello baseball blows out Prosser

April 17, 2019 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald Othello 11, Prosser 1 OTHELLO — Othello led 8-0 after one inning and beat Prosser 11-1. Jaxon Rocha hit an RBI single in the fifth inning to end the game. Rocha also pitched three and one-third inn...

Comments

Read More

South county roundup: Othello baseball splits with Ephrata

April 10, 2019 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald EPHRATA — Othello maintained its second-place position in the CWAC Division I with a split in Ephrata, losing the opener 10-0 and taking the nightcap 11-1. The Tigers opened up a 4-0 lead in the fir...

Comments

Read More

Othello loses controversial game to Toppenish

April 10, 2019 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald OTHELLO — Human error is part of sports. Whether it comes from the players, coaches or referees. April 2 at Huskie Stadium it was a little bit of all three to create a controversial ending to Othe...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

509-770-1227
705 E. Hemlock (downstairs)
Othello, WA 99344

©2019 Sun Tribune Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X