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New track and field club launches in Kingston
Posted: May 22nd, 2014 @ 1:42pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
She competed for Canada at a world junior championship, won six OFSAA medals and got an athletic scholarship to a prestigious American university. None of it would have happened, Darcelle McCutcheon says, without the support of a track club.
"Everything I got to do as a result of track, I owe to Wayne and all the support I had from family and community, the Legion, and people who wanted me to do well," she said, referring to her long-time coach, Wayne Bulak.
"I didn't take anything away from track (that wasn't positive). Every experience, every new challenge that came my way, it was all so positive. I just want other athletes to have that same experience."
To that end, McCutcheon is part of a group that has formed the Kingston Track and Field Club, a multi-discipline club that will launch a 10-week summer program in June.
Had there not been a club when she was a child, McCutcheon wonders how successful she might have been.
"My parents knew I was fast," she said. "They watched me beat boys when I was seven years old at company picnics when my dad worked for Nortel. They saw an adult wearing a Napanee Legion Track and Field Club jacket and went and asked him about it. I started training with Shane (Lakins) and I never knew anything different. Having a club was what gave me all the opportunities that I had."
Among the people who will be coaching with the new club are pole vault specialist Jen Payne, throws coaches Melody Torcolacci, Tim Fawcett and Derek Joynt, and distance coach Dave Grant, along with Bulak and McCutcheon, specializing in hurdles and sprints.
Bulak and Torcolacci are both members of the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame.
Even though the disciplines are diverse, and the overlap in training is minimal, being part of a greater club benefits a track athlete, McCutcheon believes.
"It's about the support," she said. "Wayne and Shane created this environment. It was a team. It always felt like that. They weren't just teammates. They were friends. Even if you're competing against one another, because it is an individual sport, there's a camaraderie about it.
"You need people to inspire you. It makes you better. We want to create that type of environment here."
Not long ago there were several athletics organizations in the area, including two that were multi-disciplinary in nature - the Napanee Legion and Kingston track and field clubs. Eventually they merged, but then faded away as Richardson Stadium deteriorated and there was no suitable facility at which to train.
People like Bulak and Torcolacci both continued to coach small groups. "Because he's just amazing, Wayne does that, training athletes, getting them to meets and stuff like that," McCutcheon said. "It's just been hard without the space to do it well."
Three years ago the new municipal facility, Caraco Field, opened, but it was still not being well utilitized.
"When you're working with a smaller group, it's just not worth it," Bulak said. "To spend 60, 70, 80 dollars (to rent the facility) for an hour of practice for half a dozen kids, it becomes prohibitive in a hurry."
It's hoped a larger club - McCutcheon hopes to have between 20 and 30 members to start - will have the critical mass to make renting the field practical.
Wess Garrod, the man who spearheaded the development of the new track, was again the catalyst for creating the new club, McCutcheon said.
"When I was (teaching) at North Addington in first semester, he just called me one day and (said), 'I think it's time. We need to reopen discussions with the city and see if we can figure out renting the space. We need to get a club going. It's a shame that this has been built for three years and for the last two we haven't been able to figure out a partnership.'"
The program will begin June 10. Already some athletes have registered, and others may do so by contacting McCutcheon at KingstonTFC@gmail.com. There will be both competitive and recreational programs offered for those 12 years of age and older. Those in the competitive group will compete in the Legion series of meets, which leads to a national championship; the Athletics Ontario championships in July and some Wednesday night all-comers meets hosted by the Ottawa Lions.
"The dreams are winter track, and finding a facility to do that, and an elementary program, all of those sorts of things," McCutcheon said. "There's lots of places to go but we decided to go with this 10-week summer program and see where it went."
McCutcheon says she's thrilled to be part of it.
"I had such a great experience in track," she said. "Wayne is amazing. He's what inspires me to do all of this. His dedication and commitment to the sport is crazy. All of the coaches' commitment to the sport, Wess's commitment to getting this place built and spearheading all these efforts - they make you want to be involved.
"I believe in the sport and everything it has to offer, from an athletic and health perspective right down to the character it builds. I'm really excited to continue being involved in it and get to be on the other side."
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