by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Canby's youth running club met up last Thursday as part of its October schedule. More than 20 kids, ages 8 to14, have been attending the new club's practices. The first youthful strides in a lifetime of fitness may be taking place among an eclectic group of children ages 8 to 14.

A community based youth running club was formed in Canby just a month ago and if the early returns are any indication, there are plenty of youngsters who don’t mind putting one foot in front of the other faster than a walk.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Canby High coach Bob Webber, below, stops by for practice.The free club recreational in organization and meets Tuesday and Thursday from 5-6 p.m. in October at Legacy Park. The club will disband for the winter, then resume in the spring if there’s still enough interest.

All it took was a little wishing from the children and the race was on to form a running club.

“I started the club because my middle school-aged nephew, Tyler Gamble, said that he wished there was still a cross country team at Baker Prairie Middle School,” said Tracie Heidt, who serves as the club’s administrator. “Middle school athletics got cut in Canby during the 2012-13 school year due to the budget crisis, so there was no such running group at all last year or this. I am a runner, too, and was excited that Tyler was interested in it. I figured that as volunteer coordinator of the Canby schools, I might be able to find a volunteer coach or two and get something started.”

Heidt said she approached Canby High coach Tom Milbrooke, and he was interested in the idea, too.

“He advised me to contact Joel Sauvain, a former CHS track star who had coached at Tigard High School in the past,” Heidt said. “I know Ron Kimmel from my neighborhood and through my volunteer coordinating efforts at Bethany Church, where he is a pastor, and I was delighted when he agreed to coach. In fact, he brings his kids, Isaiah, 10, and Olivia, 8, to run with the group on Tuesdays and that is pretty special. They are good runners too.”

Heidt said that assistant CHS cross country coach Bob Webber comes to practices regularly as well and he brings not only his daughter Brooke, 11, “but his love of running and supportive personality with him. It’s wonderful to see parents stay and run with us. It shows that this is becoming a truly community-based club.”

Several parents have told Heidt that they are thankful that this club exists. Upper elementary aged kids have never had an organized running club, so this is a unique opportunity for them, and middle schoolers who like to run don’t have to wait until high school to find a group to run with.

Kimmel takes Tuesdays and Sauvain the Thursday practices. Kids and their parents drop in as they can.

“The first few weeks have been great. With the weather being cold and rainy I never expected so many kids and parents to participate,”?Kimmel said. “I think there is definitely a need at the middle school and under level for youth running where the coaches can encourage healthy habits for the kids in our community. I think there is real potential to have a strong youth running team in Canby.”

At each practice, the club does either a track workout or some track work and then a street run. Thus far, more than 20 kids have consistently shown up for the club’s practices.

“We hope to continue the club in the spring and if we see that a consistent, dedicated group of kids emerges, we will become an official USA Track & Field Club of Oregon, which means that we could start competing as a team,” Heidt said. “We sincerely hope that middle school sports are restored in the future, but in the meantime we are glad to fill the void and fill it for free.

“The excitement that I have had during the first couple weeks has continued to grow by the day,” said Sauvain. “The outpouring of support that the community has shown is extraordinary. For me personally, as a kid that has grown up in this community, it is very promising that we are able the put together a program and we are able to have this much success. I am continually being thanked by parents for my time, but the reality is that we would have never been able to start this program without the backing of Coach Millbrooke and his staff as well as the coordination that Tracie has provided us. Ron Kimmel has been a great with the kids and I look forward to working with him for years to come.”

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