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Tropical storm, rule changes make for rough first day for Half-Steppers

on August 2, 2011

Half-Steppers’ coach Eric Avery sounded a little tired on the phone Monday night, if not a slightly frustrated, as he reported on the team’s first full day of Junior Olympics competition at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.

His tone was not a reflection of team effort, but rather the effect of a long sleepless bus ride the night before and a tropical storm that postponed races for nearly one hour.

Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans. (Photo by Reggie Doss)

To make things more challenging and confusing, track officials had changed protocol by not allowing coaches to follow runners into a marching area, and changed the word “heat,” which normally means race, to “table,” he said.  Avery said young runners didn’t know what the word “table” meant when races were being called to start.

“It was just frustrating for a lot of people—not just us,” said Avery. “Just the whole meet itself. Everyone was frustrated.”

When it was all said and done, six Half-Steppers ran on Monday. Volunteer coach Reggie Doss said no one qualified for the 100 and 200 sub-bantam semifinals but the coaches attributed that to the long bus ride. “The supporting mothers gave an in-house breakfast today, while coach Avery gave an uplifting and encouraging speech,” said Doss. “Coach Avery asked his runners to put Monday behind them and to seize the moment and opportunity that today offers.”

Tuesday will be a big day for the Half-Steppers as nearly everyone on the team competes in a 200 or 400-yard race. Avery said the group has trained more for long sprints like these because there is more room for recovery if a runner trips coming off the blocks. “There is no room for error on the short sprint,” said Avery. “There were several kids on other teams who fell right at the start—like took two steps and tripped. You just can’t recover.”

Just before dinner and going to bed Monday night, Avery said they’d had a team meeting and he had told his runners they needed to be more focused on tomorrow’s events. “The 200s and 400s are mainly our better races. I feel we’ll have more success tomorrow,” he said.


| Follow the team from start to finish.


  1. Barbara on August 2, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Good Luck Half-Steppers!

  2. Felix Hunziker on August 3, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Yes, good luck to all of you! We’re proud to have you represent our City.

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