Until a decade ago, I rarely considered track and field.
While my daughter attended Emerson Junior High all those years ago, I saw how her coach Leo Sacramento got the most from his kids (my Julie included); how he taught them to run faster, jump higher and, in real life, start thinking about reaching farther.
Thanks to Sacramento, I warmed a little to life on the cinders.
But my daughter took the soccer fork in the road to high school athletics and my bubbling interest in track and field simmered.
Four years ago, I returned to sports writing after a 30-year vacation.
Suddenly, there was a Davis High meet to cover — and there stood Leo Sacramento, assisting Blue Devil jumpers. Déjà vu.
Sacramento introduced me to the head coach, Spencer Elliott, who in turn told me about distance genius Bill Gregg.
Plodding through that first spring of shot putting, pole vaulting and 3,200-meter journeys, I watched closely. Learning right along with those Devils, the trio of coaches taught me what track and field can mean.
Sure, it’s great to break 11 seconds in the 100 meters. A 15-foot pole vault puts the competitor in rarefied air. But really watching these three, I discovered something.
Track and field is about the effort. It’s about outdoing yourself. It’s about being persistent once you set a goal. It’s about being a good teammate. It’s about becoming a better person.
Remember the heavy rains of December? If you drove past Halden Field at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium, there stood a drenched Elliott. As the drops fell, he was holding court for maybe a dozen new kids on the track block.
Every day after school — far removed from his real season — Elliott, along with assorted assistants, was there for the students.
It’s no wonder he has more than 150 athletes with him each spring. No wonder Blue Devils like Derek Nelson, the Petersens, the Greggs, Ian Rock and so many others show up at prominent colleges.
And now comes word that the Davis Community Track and Field Club is launching a third summer session with training handled by Elliott and staff.
The club will meet from June 11 through July 26 and workouts and skills development are always on a drop-in basis Mondays through Thursdays.
Youths from fourth grade through high school can learn distance, relays, sprinting, throws, hurdles, jumps and pole vault. More advanced athletes can stay in condition and brush up on their specialties.
This year, as numbers grow, there will be five clusters from which to choose and athletes can sign up for as few as six training sessions for $90 or all 28 for $250.
Seventh- to 12th-grade athletes will meet from 9 to 10:30 a.m. with fourth- to sixth-graders gathering from 10 to 11 a.m.
Yet to be announced is afternoon cross country training times with Gregg.
Club members also have an opportunity to complete in the Fight Against Hunger All-Comers meet on June 16 and the Olympics-style All-Comers meet on July 21.
A handful of former Blue Devils, including Duke University’s Rock (the reigning state pole vault champ) and Ripon University’s Nelson will be part of Elliott’s brilliant coaching mix this summer.
“DCTFC is a USTAF Pacific Association club open to youth who are beginning … or experienced athletes,” Elliott explains. “The club is designed to be a fun, friendly and low-key introduction to all track-and-field events.”
While I Have You Here: I’m torn, but as you read this I’m headed to Elk Grove for the Blue Devil boys’ now-or-never basketball showdown with The Thundering Herd. Game time is 7 p.m. A win Friday and No. 13 DHS should be headed to the playoffs.
A loss and … I don’t want to think about it.
If you aren’t going to that game, head over to The Cage. There’s a girls home game there, also against Elk Grove.
Help say goodbye to seniors Sara Sousa and Tiffany Ho for me. The Lady Blue Devils have been thisssss close to breaking through in a season that has seen puzzling shooting results as their No. 1 bugaboo.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047.