The Westfield Area Y Flyers have been providing competitive Track and Field opportunities for young athletes for over a decade. In the last five years, the program has expanded from its flagship in Westfield to include sites in Cranford and Mountainside. Training is provided for over 700 athletes on an annual basis.
With this growth has come an increased need for coaches. In order to meet this need, the club has recruited many high school athletes including many former Flyers to act as volunteer coaches. The volunteer coaches run, jump or throw for their high school track teams and then race over to Kehler Stadium to work at practices. The student coaches really enjoy the coaching.
Matthew Baker says: “I really enjoy passing down the knowledge that was passed down to me” and Tyler Jakubek agrees stating: “I like having learned track from both sides. I like coaching more and I am probably a better coach than I was a runner.” This relationship benefits both the young Flyer’s athletes and the volunteer coaches. Senior coach Chris Kopal says: “Watching them learn it as an athlete and then use the knowledge as a coach is very rewarding.”
The volunteer coaches time racers, shepherd athletes from one event to the next and execute the training plans provided to them by the Head Coach Jolene Morris. “The volunteer coaches are the backbone of the team. The kids really look up to them,” says Greg Hatzisavvas, Senior Director Wellness and Member Engagement at the Westfield Area Y. It is clear from observing practices, that the athletes really admire their coaches and that the coaches fulfill a vital role for the team.
The Westfield Area Y Flyers Track Club is open to boys and girls ages 7-15 years old. Participants learn running and track and field event techniques and skills by USATF certified coaches. For more information, please contact: Greg Hatzisavvas at 908-233-2700 x251.
The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Visit www.westfieldynj.org to learn more about Westfield Area Y programs. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.