This story was published in the Spring 2023 issue of Total Sports Quinte magazine
There’s a tremendous amount of quality high school track and field athletes in the Quinte region, but the majority of them stop training at the end of the season.
“A lot of them think that track and field is over when their high school season is over,” said Todd Crawford, head coach of the Quinte Legion Lynx Track Club. “They don’t really understand the full value of doing the sport for the rest of the summer,”
The Lynx are a rebranded track and field club following the amalgamation of a team led by Crawford with the former Quinte Legion Track and Field Club. Crawford said Fred Jordan and Sue Tripp, who are now, respectively, president and vice-president of the Lynx reached out to him.
“We really want kids to explore all of the events and figure out where their true interests lie. If you haven’t tried something, you’re not going to know if you actually have the ability to aspire to a great level with it,” said Crawford, a 1983 Canadian junior champion in triple jump as a member of the Quinte Knights when the club was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the predecessor to the Legion club. He also competed in long jump, 100 and 200 metres as well as 4×100 and 4×400 relays as a collegiate athlete in the United States.
With the Lynx, there’s athletes as young as eight who focus more on exploring a variety of track and field events rather than competition, although there are some competitions for the youngest participants.
“It should be about developing skills,” Crawford said. “When I started out in high school I thought I was going to win the Boston Marathon. Well, I wasn’t anywhere close to it. I ended up getting a scholarship to a Division 1 school in the United States but I was a triple-jumper, long-jumper. That’s a lot different than running a marathon.”
Crawford said too often parents have their child focus on just one sport when participating in multiple sports would be beneficial.
“Really every sport that you do lends to you being proficient in your chosen sport as time goes on and that’s kind of the model we want for the younger kids,” he said. “It’s just get out there, have fun, don’t worry about the results.”
For example, Crawford said the club would of course train athletes heavily in sprinting and jumping before they attempt the pole vault event.
Quinte’s Lynx club is offering every event you can think of, including the hammer throw now as well which isn’t on the elementary and high school schedule, but is at club events.
“We try to get kids to think long term, not short term,” Crawford said.
The high school track and field season is now underway with pre-season meets leading up to the Bay of Quinte, Central Ontario, East Regional and OFSAA provincial championships. The regional and provincial meets are where the club athletes often separate themselves from the rest of the field.
“With the track club, it allows kids that really enjoy the sport another opportunity to continue their seasons,” Crawford said.
Crawford used his son, Aidan, as a great example. He started track and field in Grade 9 and with great height at 6-foot-2 he was encouraged to attempt pole vault. He tried it, but didn’t take to it and moved on to javelin, discus and shot put.
“It turns out that was a great move for him and he progressed and progressed,” Crawford said.
Aidan captured OFSAA bronze in javelin after throwing for just a month-and-a-half. He went on during the summer to become a provincial U16 club champion and also placed fourth at the Canadian championships.
His shot put skills also improved throughout the summer and he earned bronze at the Legion national championships.
Those accolades led to Aidan meeting and working with national coaches like Richard Parkinson, who coaches one of the world’s top shot put athletes, Sarah Mitton, from Canada.
Aidan has since learned a spin technique, which was frustrating to learn but had led to better results. He went from 13.83 to 15.47 metres during his first meet using the spin technique.
“That is a huge improvement,” Crawford said. “For kids that really want to advance and have that passion, that is what this club is for.”
For some athletes, their involvement with the club is on more of a recreational level.
Others aspire to higher levels and Crawford noted track and field is one of the highest producing sports in the Quinte area for students receiving post-secondary scholarships. The only similar sport would be women’s hockey.
“A lot of kids have come out of this region (for track and field), whether it’s NCAA or U Sports,” Crawford said.
The Quinte Legion Lynx use a number of different local facilities, including the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre. The members train once a week during the fall, increased to two days each week after Christmas and three days a week after Easter.
“It’s just an opportunity for kids to come and explore the sport at a different time of year,” Crawford said.
Follow the Quinte Lynx at qlynx.ca