Northwest Flyers celebrated 30th Anniversary Saturday
The Northwest Flyers, a USA Track and Field-associated track club serving the Greater NW Houston area, celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a breakfast and speech from founding member, Benecia Newhouse, Saturday morning.
The Anniversary Breakfast was well-attended, with more than 350 people packing the pews in the Cypress Creek Christian Community Center Forum to hear Newhouse speak to the impact of the Northwest Flyers on her life and career.
Newhouse and her father, Olympic gold medalist Fred Newhouse, founded the club in 1987, along with a handful of other aspiring track athletes, to ‘foster the development of youth track and field in Northwest Houston and to provide long-term growth opportunities to athletes through their association with the sport,’ according to the group’s mission statement on its Facebook page.
Ms. Newhouse, a former Rice University Track and Field All-American and a former member of the United States Olympic Committee, detailed to the young athletes and their parents how competing in track had taken her all over the city, state and eventually world as she progressed, providing her with opportunities to meet others in the field and grow, personally and professionally.
After the event’s conclusion, Ms. Newhouse said that the reason she loves the Northwest Flyers as much as she does, and remains involved to this day, is because of the impact the organization has on the community and its athletes.
“The Northwest Flyers has a huge impact on the community,” Newhouse said. “They get to try something new. It just introduces them to a new sport, and outside of that, the best thing was that the Northwest Flyers allowed me to travel all around the city, then the state, and then eventually, as I grew older, the world.”
Her father, Fred Newhouse – a gold medalist in the 1976 Olympic 4x400 relay – stays involved and engaged with the Northwest Flyers, as well, and was in attendance to support his daughter as she addressed the assembly. Mr. Newhouse said after the breakfast was concluded that every year, he is more surprised and pleased at the way the organization continues to thrive.
“This exceeds my wildest dreams,” Newhouse said. “It is what you can expect with the Northwest Flyers. I’ve been coming to these breakfasts off and on for the last ten years, and it just keeps getting better and better.”
The organization now boasts an enrollment of more than 200 athletes and 22 coaches, all volunteers, and Mr. Newhouse said it was the people that truly make the Northwest Flyers a special group.
“The young people have so much enthusiasm for the program,” Newhouse said. “The parents get excited for the program. And the leaders in this program are just outstanding. Nobody gets paid. It’s all about the kids.”
The end results have been encouraging. Year over year, more than one third of the club’s athletes annually qualify for the Texas State Championship and National Junior Olympic Championships and more than 95% of the club’s members have gone on to college, with many receiving academic or athletic scholarships. There is, in a lot of senses, plenty of winning going on around the Northwest Flyers’ organization, but Mr. Newhouse says that is simply a happy accident, resulting from an even more important process.
“From the beginning of our program, we have never focused on winning,” Newhouse said. “Winning has just been a byproduct of all the other things we focus on: hard work, discipline, parent involvement, travel, exposure to universities, education, reviewing report cards, staying out of trouble. All those basic fundamentals have been the focus. Winning has just been a byproduct.”
Newhouse said that, simply by ensuring that athletes have the best possible experience with the club and with competition, the club continues to attract and promote winners. But the mission of the program starts with its commitment to the student-athlete.
“We didn’t expect that every kid would win every race,” Newhouse said. “But we did expect that every kid would have a good experience. Every kid, whether the kid made it to the Junior Olympics or didn’t make it to the end of the race.”