Alameda middle school students are lacing up their running shoes in preparation for the start of track & field this week, part of the Middle School Sports program run by the Alameda Education Foundation (AEF).
“We expect over 200 students to compete this year,” said AEF Athletic Director Marty Garchar.
Teams are based at The Academy of Alameda and Lincoln and Wood Middle Schools as well as a combined team from Nea/ACLC 6th-8th grades.
The students will compete in two “All-Comers” meets, where there are no limits on entries, to give students a chance to try different events, culminating in a championship meet June 5 and 6.
Students compete in a range of running events, from the 50 meter sprint to the mile. There are also relays. Field events include the long jump and shot put. Running events are held at the College of Alameda (no Alameda high school has a viable track), with field events at Encinal High School.
For many middle school students, this is their first opportunity to participate in track & field. Because there are no limits to how many students can participate per school, unlike team sports, “all students have the opportunity to participate, no matter their skill level,” explained Garchar.
Besides the obvious fitness benefits of track & field, students learn a lot about themselves.
Said Don Porteous, an Encinal High School distance coach who volunteers to help run the meets: “The young people get a taste of what they can achieve if they work at it, and many discover talent that they did not realize they had.”
AEF took over management and support of middle school sports in 2009 after they were cut by the Alameda Unified School District due to budget shortfalls. In addition to track & field, the program includes coed volleyball in the fall and boys and girls basketball in the winter. It is open to students from both the district and charter public schools. The program boasts a strong academic tie-in — student-athletes must maintain minimum GPA to participate — as well as a code of conduct.
“Our goal is to support student success in the classroom as well as on the field or court,” said AEF President Bill Sonneman.
In addition to a small participation fee, AEF seeks grants and community donations to fund the program.
For more information or to make a donation to support this program, please visit the AEF web site.
- April 24 - All-Comers: Field Events - Encinal High School / April 25 - Running Events - College of Alameda
- May 9 - All-Comers: Running Events - College of Alameda / May 10 - Field Events - Encinal High School
- June 5 - Championships: Field Events - Encinal High School / June 6 - Running Events - College of Alameda