Jacksonville High School’s new summer sports camp kicked off Monday morning at Howard Cook Field on the JHS campus.
The first-ever track and field camp held in Jacksonville attracted 50 kids from kindergarten through ninth grade.
The JHS Athletics Camp was created by Sharae Schmitt, who is the Head Athletics Coach at JHS.
Schmitt said she was blown away by the number of children who signed up to attend the three-day event.
“I was very surprised,” Schmitt said during a short break in the water during Tuesday’s session. “You never really know what to expect with a brand new side, so yeah, I’m happy.”
On Monday, the campers were trained in sprinting and running. On Tuesday, events on the ground were given pride of place. The boys and girls will be introduced to the relays on the closing day of the camp.
“I think the relays and relay transmission will be a lot of fun for the kids,” said Schmitt, who qualified for the state in several events during her days as a Fightin’ Maden track star.
Schmitt’s motivation to start a track camp at JHS certainly came at the right time, with gasoline approaching $5.00 a gallon.
“I always thought Jacksonville needed its own track camp,” she said. “There are athletic camps (at Tyler schools), but Jacksonville is big enough to have its own camp. Keeping Jacksonville kids in town is important to me.
Schmitt went on to outline some important reasons for a local track camp.
“We give every child an introduction to running events, field events and relays,” she said. “It’s important that children are exposed to all the different events that are included in athletics, before they enter college.
Track and field is a sport for everyone, Schmitt said, and getting that seed planted in the minds of campers at an early age will prove beneficial in the future.
“The great thing about athletics is that there’s something for everyone,” Schmitt said. “Regardless of a person’s build, there is something they can participate in and even excel in athletics. Not all sports can say the same.
In addition to track and field coach Chris Hall, several members of the JHS track and field team serve as camp instructors.
Schmitt said that by allowing a few of the high school track and field athletes to share at camp, it would actually be a life lesson for them and it would help them develop their discipline.
Campers will receive an official camp t-shirt on Wednesday, sponsored by Whataburger of Jacksonville.