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The City Journals

Growing youth track club back for spring season

Mar 05, 2019 04:02PM ● By Catherine Garrett

Race Cats Herriman has grown from around 30 runners to more than 200 in just a few short seasons. (Photo courtesy Caisa Brown)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

The Race Cats track program for kids ages 8 to 15 has simply kept on growing since it was formed by Draper’s Nanette Evans Kennard, a two-time All-American runner at Brigham Young University. After just a few years, the program boasted 40 teams and 1,100 athletes last fall and was the third-largest team in the country at last year’s national championships.

“My vision for Race Cats is to facilitate opportunities for youth to discover running at a younger age than I did,” Kennard said. “I’ve designed the Race Cats program to be fun and positive so we can ignite a love of exercise in young children. I want them to experience the positive physical and mental benefits, confidence, joy and lifelong friendships that running provides.”

This past December, 24 Race Cat athletes from the Jordan School District competed in Reno, Nevada,. at the Junior Olympic National Championships.

Kennard said the experience of 13-year-old Grayson Milne during the 13- to 14-year-old boys race at nationals exemplifies what this program is all about. 

“Early on in his race, his shoe was yanked off by the mud on the course,” she said. “He didn’t even stop to think about it. He just kept going and ran more than half of the race with only one shoe on (which was later retrieved by Grayson and his teammates)! I was inspired by his courage and willingness to press onward despite uncomfortable circumstances. 

These kids are learning grit, sportsmanship and teamwork at a young age, and I am so proud of them. I am so grateful for all the coaches and parents who help make this possible. We all had a blast this past season and grew as at team.”

Caisa Brown and Heidi Summers co-direct the 11-week Race Cats program that will practice at Herriman High as sanctioned by USA Track and Field. The spring season, the team will hold practices twice a week for young kids who will compete at meets through the season running from April 8 through June 22. The state meet will be held June 6–8 with those qualifying for regionals traveling to Montana to compete June 20–22.

More information on registration for the spring league is available at www.racecats.org. The number of athletes will be capped at 160. The Instagram page for the Race Cats spring program at Herriman High is @racecatssouthjordan.

 “I love how well thought-out and inclusive this program is,” Brown said. “Plus, Nan [Kennard] incorporates goals and learning principles beyond running techniques with this program’s philosophy, which helps these kids with some real-life skills.”