The Ohio State women’s track and field team is all about giving back.
Alumnae and current members of the team, along with some students from the OSU running club, volunteered to join OSU LiFESports to host a track and field clinic for Columbus youth at the French Field House Saturday.
More than 80 children showed up to take advantage of the free clinic. In separate rotating groups, they cycled through four different stations where volunteers taught them baton handoffs, plyometric drills, shot put and block starts. Supervisors and volunteers used each station as a teaching metaphor to represent one of the life skills of SETS, which stands for self-control, effort, teamwork and social responsibility.
The volunteers for the track clinic consisted of five OSU track & field alumnae, eight members of the OSU running club, and four current members of OSU’s women’s track & field team, including second-year in exercise science Khara Walker.
Walker said she was immediately interested when her coach told the team about the clinic, so she volunteered.
“I actually love working with kids, and I love sports, so to do something that I love all the way around is pretty fun,” Walker said, who runs the 200-meter, 400-meter, and 600-meter events in competition,.
During the clinic, Walker worked at the starting block station, teaching the proper technique sprinters use to explode off the line at the start of a race. She said self-control was the SETS skill she focused on teaching the children, explaining during the drill that it takes discipline to hold your position until the start signal is heard. However, Walker made it clear that everyone needs to exercise self-control on some level “at home, on the track, the field, the court and in the classroom.”
Not surprisingly, it can be hard to teach self-control to an energetic bunch of children.
“A lot of them have strong personalities and they get really competitive, so at times they take it too serious and we have to calm them down a little bit and let them know it’s all for fun,” Walker said.
Parents were invited to stick around for the roughly two-hour duration of the camp, which ended with pizza, snacks and beverages. Tiffany Banks and her husband Sean were two of many who sat in the bleachers and watched their children participate.
Tiffany Banks said her son 16-year-old Savon has been participating in LiFESports for five years, and her younger son Shanden loved his first few clinics so much that he is looking forward to attending the summer camp for the first time this year.
“We really enjoy (the summer camp),” Banks said. “You think in four weeks they’re not gonna make many friends, but there’s so many people. Everywhere we go now we see people … from LiFESports and everybody knows little Shanden from the clinics and things like that, so being able to expand outside their home schools and their neighborhoods, and branch out to make all of Columbus their home, I think I like that the most.”
Savon Banks is set to be a junior counselor at the camp this summer. Savon said he likes spending time with his brother at the clinics, even though being a junior counselor comes with a lot of responsibility.
“(My responsibilities) could be social, it could be physical, and it could be mental responsibilities as well,” Savon Banks said. “You want to be the positive example, not the negative. So you wanna lead by example, not by words.”
The track clinic was one of six clinics LiFESports holds before their main event, a four-week camp held during the summer.
“Since the summer camp is free, there’s a lot of interest. We only have one registration day, so people will basically start lining up at 6 a.m.,” Skotko said.
The last LiFESports clinic before the summer camp is scheduled for April 12. The clinic is set to use football to teach more life skills to Columbus youth, and everyone participating will be invited to attend the OSU spring football game after the clinic. Registration day for LiFESports’ summer camp is set for May 17.