Track team runs fast with mentors that last

The Rockford F.I.R.E. track & field team is made up of 85 athletes, 33 of whom will dash their way to the regional meet this weekend.
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 10:34 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “I love track and field!” explained kindergarten track & field athlete Londyn Robertson.

Little Londyn is a track star for the Rockford F.I.R.E. track & field team, a summer program associated with the Rockford Park District.

“How did you get to be so good?” I asked her.

“Because I drink a lot of water,” she said.

The kindergartener often places high in her 100 and 200 meter dashes. Londyn says she wins a lot but especially loves being with her friends on the track, even if they’re 10 years older like Michelle Gasmund.

“I like doing it,” Gasmund said. “I like having the questions to answer and kind of like leading them on where they need to go or where they want to be, so I want to help as much as I can and kind of get them in love with the sport like how I was.”

The athletes range in age from 6-18 years old. They all compete in separate divisions on meet days but practice together twice a week.

Head coach James Diamond is new to the team. He’s used to coaching collegiate athletes, but couldn’t get rid of the itch to compete in track & field during the summer. Now, he mentors young athletes of all ages hoping they enjoy the sport as much as he did when he started in fifth grade.

“If I can be a positive impact in a kid’s life, and that inspires them to get involved in track & field and build those deeper relationships and connections with others, then that’s really rewarding for me,” Diamond said.

The team is made up of 85 athletes, 33 of whom will dash their way to the regional meet this weekend. If that goes well, on to Houston they go for the Junior Olympic Games.

“Early on, they’re going to be motivated by the medals, but I’m hoping that they have a great enough experience that they kind of develop maybe more of a process approach to the sport,” Diamond said.

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