Track & Field
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses capped off a four-day coaching conference for Boston-area youth coaches Tuesday afternoon at Boston University.
The Up2Us National Training institute was sponsored by Up2Us, a nonprofit that trains coaches from around the nation to provide mentorship and life skills to underserved children through athletics.
Many of the conference attendees were coaches or staff members in organizations that serve Boston Public School athletes, such as SquashBusters, America SCORES Boston, Metro Lacrosse, and Tenacity.
“From all of my colleagues around the world, I really want to congratulate you all,” Moses told more than 100 coaches seated in Metcalf Hall in George Sherman Union. “At the end of the day, it’s the dedication and the willingness to want to make a difference that puts us all in this room together. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Many of the coaches in attendance also participate in Up2Us's program called Coach Across America, which supports national youth development programs that use sports as a vehicle to improve the lives of kids.
Shanna Scuafri is a Coach Across America member who is training as a program assistant for the Boston Scholar Athletes program. She will work at Madison Park High as well as West Roxbury High.
“I think it’s really important that during this program we were able to meet people and other [Coach Across America] members from the local area,” Scuafri said. “I learned a lot about how to facilitate relationships with the kids. The greatest lesson I learned was that no kid is a lost cause. Each one of them deserves a chance to better themselves and you can also become a better person from it.”
Paul Caccamo, executive director of Up2Us, spoke about the importance of the conference along with how much growth he has witnessed in just four days.
“Everybody always talks about all the problems, just about the problems when coaching the kids," he told the coaches. "But you guys spent the last four days talking about the solutions and you are the solutions. This is a room full of heroes.”
The last day of the conference also included a brainstorming session during which the coaches talked about what they had learned and shared their individual accomplishments with the rest of their group.
“It’s really all about teaching the participants how to be skilled not only when coaching the kids, but just relating to them,” said Up2Us facilitator and trainer Vanessa Akhtar, who also attends Boston University. “It also means a lot to us to have such support and a great partner in the Laureus organization.”
Moses is chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, an international organization dedicated to facilitating worldwide programs of sports-related community projects that help protect kids from various social problems. Laureus has worked with more than 2 million children in more than 45 countries.
“When we talk about charitable organizations and our mission at Laureus," Moses said, "and all the people that we work with, at the end of the day, we consider all of the people with us as a part of our family.
“And it’s my honor to really welcome you today, as part of our family, as people who really make a small part of the world really valuable to someone else.”
Hernandez School track and field prodigy John Lara finished his middle school career on a high note by competing in the Junior Olympic National Track & Field Championship at A&T University in Greensboro, N.C.
Lara ran in the fifth heat of the 800-meter run late last month and finished third out of 12 runners in his heat with a time of 2 minutes, 3.36 seconds. He failed to qualify for the finals but ultimately finished 18th nationally in his event.
“I lost because I put myself down mentally because I doubted myself against my competition," Lara said, "because I got nervous.”
To view a video of Lara's race click here.
It may not have been the finish he was looking for but it was still an exceptional year for Lara. He went from being in the city championship for the 400-meter dash, to winning the Boston Athletic Association invitational mile and breaking the state record for the 800-meter dash (2:04) at the Division 3 middle school track and field state championship. Then, he was runner-up in the New England championship before he won the Region 1 meet by besting the same Rhode Island runner who edged him at New Englands.
“My feelings about John's progress is obvious, he has so much potential and he is just getting started," Hernandez coach Michael Baugh said in an email. "He has been training with me since fourth grade. He was fast but still hadn't grown into running until sixth grade when he got third in the Boston Middle School [Cross Country] Championships.”
When asked how he has been able to accomplish so much, Lara said “my coach and my mother were my motivation, they have supported me and helped with training. I could not do it without them.”
This fall, Lara will attend Catholic Memorial where he will continue to run track and field and also continue to train with Baugh on the side. Lara was disappointed that he didn't qualify for the finals at Nationals last month but he said he will be unhindered by his final summer performances when he starts running for CM.
“Losing made me work harder and to do better," he said. "I’ve been training all summer with my coach to become even better than before.”
And he has big plans for high school.
“I want to be Top 5, no, Top 3 in the nation," he said. "That is my goal.”
Karl Clement is a senior at the O'Bryant School who writes for Teens in Print.
Wesley Korir is used to moving at a fast pace, whether it was when he won his first marathon in Chicago or when he won the Boston Marathon in 2012.
On Wednesday afternoon, he was forced to move at a fast pace again -- but not because he was in the middle of a race. He was racing the clock to make sure he was on time to the John Hancock Scholars & Stars Boston Marathon event at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.
Korir was the main speaker for the 400 Boston public school track athletes at the event, but was in jeopardy of being absent as a result of a delayed flight (it was a day and a half late). His plane landed around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, allowing for him to impart some running wisdom on the student-athletes.
“I’ve never seen somebody run looking backwards. If you [see] somebody run looking backwards, he’s not a good runner,” Korir said. “As a runner, I’ve never seen somebody run looking down. If you [see] somebody running while looking down, he’s not a good runner. For you to become a good runner, you need to focus and run for the prize ahead of you.”
The attentive students listened on as Korir told his story of how he went from a child running five miles barefoot to class in Kenya, to a senator in the same country and a marathon champion.
“Him just coming here and then trying to make it on time just to see us, that’s a really great gift from him,” said O’Bryant senior Patrick Powell, who was a member of O’Bryant’s 1600-meter sprint medley team that won first place in the event’s first ever "Friendship Sprint" medley relay.
Winning in front of the elite athletes made the entire experience worthwhile for Powell.
Korir was joined by other marathon greats Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of the Boston Marathon, and Greg Meyer, the last American to win the Boston Marathon.
“To link with Scholars and Stars, I love this idea,” Rodgers said. “It’s kind of like what running is permanently all about. It’s really about friendship and the friends you make in school and in sports.”
Meyer, who often volunteers as a high school track coach in his offseason, also took the duties of leading a stretching and core strengthening workout for all of the students at the event.
“There’s a lot of talent in these kids, not just in running but in life,” Meyer said. “You never know when something’s going to click with a kid and they’re good kids, they’re fun.”
Meyer was joined in leading the stretches with another member of the O’Bryant relay team, sophomore Brian Donna who hopes to run in the Olympics some day.
“You’re learning from the masters, they’ve been through everything you’ve been through,” Donna said. “You got to lead by example, there’s leaders and followers.”
By that mentality, the student’s couldn’t have had better athletes to listen to.
“You have the opportunity to change this country the way you want,” Korir said. “So take the opportunity, keep it in your hand and run with it and become who you want to become.”
Shortly before defending Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir of Kenya took the lectern at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center on Wednesday afternoon, the O’Bryant boys and the Latin Academy girls won the first ever “Friendship Sprint” medley relay race in the third-annual Scholars & Stars Boston Marathon event.
The races also came after the last American men’s winner at Boston, Greg Meyer, and four-time Boston champ, Bill Rodgers, led the 12 Boston public school track teams through drills.
Fernando Cabada, who finished seventh at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, also attended the event, which was sponsored by John Hancock Financial and the Boston Scholar Athletes program.
“It’s really great to be around people who have achieved the success that I hope to achieve when I get older, just as I continue doing the sport,” Latin Academy freshman Ashley Lewis said after helping the Dragons win the girls’ race with a time of 4 minutes 35.8 seconds.
“It’s just an honor to be here today.”
Three other freshman (Imani Pressley, Britney Firmin and Leigha Mills) also ran for Latin Academy’s winning relay on Wednesday.
“The sprint medley was really fun,” Presley said. “It was like an adrenalin rush; I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast.”
Latin Academy coach Brian Leussler said Firmin gave them an edge in the race.
“I thought the team with the strongest 800 meters was going to win this race because they have half the race, and I knew Britney, our lead leg who did the 800, was super strong at the 600 and 1000 indoor and she’s really good at the 400 and 800 outdoor,” he said. “The combination of them is just fantastic. All of them have gone to the state meet before … and they are all in ninth grade, which is amazing.
“I’m lucky to have them.”
O’Bryant (Patrick Powell, Mehki Williams, Brian Donna and Duncan Malone) won the boys’ race in 3:57.1.
“Hopefully this will be the relay for the state relays that’s coming up soon and I just wanted to see how well they run and what we need to do to polish it off,” O’Bryant coach Jose Ortega said. “Hopefully this will be a competitive team.
“I know they can run, it’s just a matter of where we need to be. We have to tweak a little, especially that 200 exchange. That’s going to happen at the state level and if we’re not ahead or separated from the rest of the pack that is where we will get in trouble.”
Powell, who ran the first leg of the relay on Wednesday, also said he was honored to be in the presence of such great marathoners.
“It means a lot because all of these people have done great in track and field and I’ve always looked up to them for all the work and perseverance they’ve done to get to that height,” he said, “and I want to get to that same height too.”
Globe Correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed to this report.
Defending Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir of Kenya will headline a track clinic for Boston public high school track teams on Wednesday afternoon at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center in Roxbury.
Sponsored by John Hancock Financial and the Boston Scholar Athletes program, the third annual Scholars and Stars event will start at 2:30 p.m. and include a series of stretching and technical drills for the students who represent 14 Boston public schools.
This year's event will also include a "Friendship Sprint" relay race with both male and female heats.
Korir, who also won the Los Angeles marathon in 2009, won the Boston Marathon with a time of 2 hours 12 minutes 40 seconds last year.
Greg Meyer, the last American men’s winner at Boston, will also be on hand once again to work with the students.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Suffolk Construction CEO and Chairman John Fish, who co-founded the Boston Scholar Athlete Program, are slated to speak along with John Hancock Financial Executive Vice President Jim Gallagher.
The only athlete from Boston public schools competing in the New England indoor track meet on Saturday, Kevin Facey, finished fifth in the 55-meter dash with a personal best time of 6.55 seconds at the Reggie Lewis Center.
Here's a link to a recent feature story on Facey.
The Burke High senior sprinter had the No. 21-seed (6.70 seconds) going into the meet and snagged the eighth and final spot in the finals by running a time of 6.64 in the prelims.
In the finals he tied with Denzel Tomaszewski of Wellesley High for fourth place but when Facey’s preliminary result was factored into the mix we was bumped back to fifth place.
The Jamaican immigrant has had a remarkable ride this post season.
He slipped out of the blocks during the finals of the 55-meter dash in the Division 4 state meet. But despite being in the back of the pack out of the blocks he still managed to finish second, one-tenth of a second out of first place with a time of 6.73.
All week long Kevin Facey has taken such special care to set his starting block properly during practice sessions at the Reggie Lewis Center, that the image of a starting block has even been seared into his dreams.
“I’m working on them so hard, I’m pretty much good with them,” said the Burke senior, who slipped out of the blocks during the finals of the 55-meter dash in the Division 4 state meet last Friday yet still managed to finish second.
Facey, who finished first in the preliminaries early in the day with a time of 6.65 seconds, was one-tenth of a second out of first place in the final with a time of 6.73 — which qualified him for Saturday’s All-States meet back at the Reggie Lewis Center.
The Jamaican immigrant will be the No. 13 seed in the 55-meter dash.
“It was really difficult because I didn’t know how to set the blocks,” he said. “I usually watch the Olympics and see how they set the starting blocks and just following and do the same thing but I didn’t really know how to use them because I wasn’t used to them.”
Burke doesn’t have any blocks to use during practices, which are held in the hallways of the school. Facey also spent most of the year running the 300-meter dash.
The 18-year-old said the fact that he still came in second place at the Division 4 meet despite his bad start was a huge confidence boost, especially since he was in last place out of the blocks.
“I was just like ‘it doesn’t matter if I’m last if l put my mind to,’ if I start last I know I’m not going to come in last place,” he said. “I kept my head forward, paid attention, looked right at the finish line and kept running. I could have given up and said ‘Oh that’s a bad start but I kept going.”
Now Facey hopes performances like that one earn him a name in the local track community. His dream is to run professionally so his mother doesn’t have to keep working in a nursing home.
“My mom did a lot for me and I want to show her that I can pay her back for everything she did growing up,” he said. “I want to show her I can pay her back for everything.”
Facey moved to Dorchester two years after his mother moved here so she could find a job and earn enough money to send for him.
“I was really a momma’s boy so I used to cry, my mom used to be there for me,” he said when asked how difficult it was to live apart from his mother. “I used to go everywhere with her and stuff. I used to cry when I saw kids with their mom having fun with their moms and stuff.
“When I came [here], when I saw her, I was like speechless.”
That was four years ago, during his freshman year in high school.
Before that, he ran track and played cricket in Kingston but his school also didn’t have starting blocks for the track team to practice with.
When he arrived in the United States he was interested in football, but his mother pushed him to run track.
He did well enough his first two seasons and finally qualified for states last spring. But he and his coach arrived at the meet as the race was starting and he was unable to run.
He also made strides in the classroom, improving his GPA from a 1.89 last year to a 2.58 this year with the help of the Boston Scholar Athlete program.
“He digs deep, I give him credit because even when he started his grades were not good, he was barely passing classes and this semester he made the honor roll,” said Burke's first-year track coach Bjorn Bruckshaw. “If someone shows a little care and effort in him he goes a long way.”
That’s exactly what has happened this winter. Bruckshaw is a wounded combat veteran without a background in coaching track but he wanted to give back. Despite his coaches limited experience, Facey managed to qualify for states.
And this time around he not only made it on time to the state meet, his mother also attended the meet as well.
“My mom came to watch me so I was so nervous,” he said. “I wanted to show her how I’m improving. When I came first [in the preliminary race] she was happy. That really made me smile.”
Coming out of the blocks strong on Saturday will not only put a smile on his mother’s face but it will also help Facey make his dreams come true.
“I dream about them and I practice too,” he said of the starting blocks. “Anything I want I dream about it. I dream about it and see how I did it so I can’t forget it.”
Catherine Van Even
4 x 200
4 x 400
4 x 200
Now that the dust has cleared from a weekend of state track indoor meets, several athletes from Boston schools’ qualified for Saturday’s All-State indoor track meet at the Reggie Lewis Center.
Latin Academy freshman Ashley Lewis qualified for the 300-meter dash after finishing sixth in the Division 2 meet with a time of 42.52. She will be the No. 21-seed at All-States.
In the boys’ 55-meter dash Burke senior Kevin Facey is seeded 13th with a time of 6.73. After winning the preliminaries in the Division 4 meet with a time of 6.65, he finished second in the finals with his seed time for All-States.
In the boys’ 1,000-meter run, Boston Latin senior Mike Ward is the No. 14 seed with a seed time of 2:35.47. He finished ninth in the Division 1 meet.
After finishing fourth in the long jump with a leap of 17-feet and seventh in the 55-meter dash with a time of 7.56 seconds, O’Bryant freshman Juleen Lewis earned the No. 10-seed in the long jump at All-States and the No. 21-seed in the 55-meter dash.
She can't compete, however, for religious reasons. She is a Seventh-day Adventist and therefore recognizes the Sabbath on Saturdays.
Her sister, Elizabeth Lewis, is a member of West Roxbury’s 4x200-meter relay team that finished fourth in the Division 4 meet and will be the No. 21 seed at Saturday's All-State meet with a seed time of 1:50.89.
Because the elder Lewis is 18-years-old, she was free to decide to compete on her own.
West Roxbury's 4x200-meter relay team also includes Monique, Michelle and Mackala McPherson.
O’Bryant freshman Juleen Lewis and her older sister Elizabeth both qualified for this Saturday's All-State indoor track meet but only the elder Lewis will compete.
The Lewis', who are Seventh-day Adventists, usually don't compete on Saturday because they recognize it as the Sabbath.
But the elder Lewis, who is a member of the West Roxbury 4x200-meter relay team, said she was free to make her own decision because she is 18-years-old.
The entire West Roxbury relay team would have to bow out if she decided not to run.
"[It was hard] because I know my mom really doesn’t want me to do it," the elder Lewis said. "I know it’s the first time the team has made it to All-States as a group so I really didn’t want to let them down and my coach is really excited about it and I know she would really love for us to run.
"But it’s also my decision. I want them to experience it and it’s my senior year and I want to experience it."
She said her sister, a freshman at O'Bryant, will not compete.
"I’m sure she’s fine with it because it’s not the first time," the elder Lewis said of her sister. "I feel like it’s my last year to go. I do have outdoor but it’s the first time doing it indoor."
The younger Lewis finished fourth in the long jump at the Division 3 state meet on Thursday with a leap of 17-feet flat. She also qualified for All-States in the 55-meter-dash with a time of 7.56 seconds.
The younger Lewis is the No. 10-seed in the long jump at All-States and the No. 21-seed in the 55-meter dash.
West Roxbury's 4x200 team qualified for All-States by clocking a time of 1:50.89 to finish in third place at the Division 4 meet this weekend.
O’Braynt coach Jose Ortega said the younger Lewis was motivated to do well in the long jump at the state meet after a disappointing seventh-place finish in the 55-meter dash.
“She was a little bit nervous and she didn’t perform the way she wanted to perform,” Ortega said of the 55-meter dash. “She took it out in the long jump and she did well in the long jump. She’ still learning. She looked lost out there but she gets better and better in her drills. She gets better and her training gets better.
“She can jump an 18 footer, it’s just a matter of getting her in that mode again.”
Ortega said more meets are held on Saturday’s during the spring season.
“She’ll do great outdoors, the only problem once again is can she can’t compete on those weekend meets,” he said of Lewis. “All those weekend meets are on Saturday. She can compete at sundown but in the spring sundown is much later and all the meets are over by then.”
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