Meet the ‘Half-Steppers,’ this week’s athletes, Richmond’s future
on August 1, 2011
The Richmond Half-Steppers are a track team that runs fast and but crossed the country slow – by bus – to get to the nation’s biggest youth track and field competition. They got to New Orleans thank in part to a city donation of $17,000, and they’ll be competing relays and sprints. Richmondconfidential.org will bring you daily updates of the action.
The Half-Steppers will represent Richmond in New Orleans all week as entrants into the 2011 AAU Junior Olympic Games.
Let’s meet this band of 18 Richmond athletes, ranging in age from 5 to 16. There are ten boys and eight girls, their endurance and speed finely-tuned from months of training at Martin Luther King Jr. Park and other sites.
The kids come from a hodgepodge of local schools, including Selesian, Verde Elementary, Franklin Elementary, and King Elementary. Many have familial ties, with parents, brothers, sisters and cousins who have been trained through Coach Johnny Holmes’ program, which he launched in Richmond in 1967.
Take a quick stroll through our gallery, and meet Richmond’s representative at this year’s national competition. There may very well be future Olympians and professional athletes in this group. Surer still, the team is loaded with potential future leaders in the community, Holmes said.
“We prepare the kids to succeed on the track,” Holmes said during a practice late last week, whistle dangling from around his neck. “But long after they leave here we see that they were prepared better for the years ahead.”
Today is the first day of competition, and the coaching staff will update richmondconfidential.org nightly with news of triumph and tribulation out of New Orleans. Competition draws to a close Aug. 6, and the team is brimming with confidence that they’ll bring home a haul of medals.
“I’m really excited, ready to run,” said Tyrone Morgan, 16, the team’s most senior member and a specialist who finishes his 400 meter sprints with gusto. “The whole team is upbeat, everybody is smiling.”
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