Greater Fitchburg Track & Field Club Still Going Strong
By Chad Garner
Special to the Sentinel & Enterprise
FITCHBURG -- The Greater Fitchburg Track & Field Club is still going strong.
Entering its 14th summer, the club has been a proven program and a summer fixture in the city over the years.
This summer is no different, either. The club has seen 119 boys and girls, ranging in ages from 4-18, register this summer.
The goal of the program isn’t to create the most elite track & field athlete -- if it happens over the years, then that’s outstanding -- but it’s more about building a strong athletic foundation centered around dynamic warm-up, proper stretching exercises, running drills and tips, hydration and diet.
“We want our kids to walk away with skills that can last a lifetime, as well as being able to transfer their experiences to other sports,” said club president Chris Woods, a 1976 Fitchburg High School graduate who retired in 2016 after spending 32 years as head coach of the boys’ track program and 22 for the boys’ cross country program at the school.
The club meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m. at Crocker Field. The events that are offered include: hurdles, shot put, turbo javelin, long jump, high jump and sprints.
“We teach skills that improve running, jumping and throwing,” Woods said. “Plus practical knowledge, such as hydration, warming up and warming down muscle groups.”
On Aug. 9, the 10th and final session for the program, there will be a track meet starting at 5 p.m. Participants will receive awards for their involvement in the program.
And all this is free to the public.
The coaching at the GFTFC is second-to-none, too.
Cindy Donelan, Sara Lamey and Mark Jackson, who has been a stabilizing force in this program along with Woods for 14 seasons, represent Fitchburg High School. Leominster High’s Cathy Harris and Burncoat High’s Andrew St. Germain also bolster a strong coaching staff to provide quality instruction to these up-and-coming athletes.
“All of our coaches are USATF certified, and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to each practice,” Woods said. “We also have high school and college students, as well as FHS track alumni that assist our coaching, working with three age groups (6 and under, 7-9, and 10 and up).
“Our coaches are enthusiastic and it shows in the way the kids respond to their coaching and the different activities and events we offer,” Woods said.
The GFTFC is a USATF certified club.
“We’ve had participants represent the club at the USATF Junior Olympics, both regionally and nationally,” Woods said.
Find out more about the Greater Fitchburg Track & Field Club at facebook.com/GFTFC and fitchburghighalumni.org/GFTFC .