Issaquah Gliders hold final meet of summer season

July 19, 2011

By Quinn Eddy

Young athletes from Auburn, Renton, Snoqualmie and Issaquah who are in the Gliders program, pound Skyline High School's track as they dash towards the finish line of a girls race. By Quinn Eddy

The Issaquah Gliders program held its final track meet of the 2011 summer season July 14. The event at Skyline High School hosted teams from Renton, Auburn and Snoqualmie. Whether the young athlete comes in first or last, every youngster is a winner.

According to Steve Corsaletti, of Auburn, his daughter I’lee loves to participate in the meets.

“We’re all for it. It’s good for kids at a young age to exercise the competitive spirit,” Corsaletti said.

Open to children ages 5-14, the track events at the last meet included the 50-, 100-, 200-, 300-, 400-, 800- and 1600-meter runs. The field events included shot put, high jump, hammer ball throw, turbo javelin, standing and running long jumps, and the softball throw.

“It’s extremely well-organized and is great because it helps kids to understand the events at an early age,” said Dana Wooster, mother of two young athletes, Annalise and Abigail.

According to Gliders founder and head coach Joanne Hartman, Abigail is one of the Gliders’ many success stories.

“She did the 800. After the first lap she kept saying she would step out but, she never gave up,” Hartman said.

Originally, the Gliders program began in the 1970s and stretched through the ’80s. As the core parents’ children became too old, the program died out. Then, in 1997, Joanne Hartman revived the program by approaching Issaquah’s Department of Parks & Recreation.

The Gliders’ first meet after its revival took place at Beaver Lake Middle School. About 50 participants signed up.

“We’re very lucky to have Joanne,” said Stephanie Shimek, recreation coordinator for Issaquah Parks & Recreation. “It’s neat because not only does the program pull people from the area, but also neighboring communities.”

On the Web

Learn more about how to get involved with the Issaquah Gliders at www.issaquahparks.net or  www.thegliders.8k.com.

The Gliders is the second track program started by Hartman. Her first program was started in 1989 in the Snoqualmie School District at Opstad Elementary School in North Bend.

Today, the Issaquah Gliders program offers track-and-field events at Issaquah High School and Skyline in the spring and early summer with cross-country in the fall. The goal is that the young athletes walk away with a desire to continue with track and field in middle school, high school and their adult life.

“Anytime kids get out there and work that hard it’s very exciting,” Hartman said. “To be that self-motivating as a youngster, it really helps to develop maturity.”

Shimek said many of the current coaches are Gliders alumni that have come back to volunteer.

Other volunteer coaches come from impressive backgrounds. Coach Greg Dalzell ran track for the University of Kansas during the ’80s and Michael Hughes, an Issaquah High grad and Seattle University alumni, specializes in cross-country and distance running.

For Gliders who have outgrown the program or seek to challenge themselves further, the Junior Olympics has been the place to go.

This year, eight went out for the initial qualifying round, six qualified and five competed in the regional meet at Spokane Falls Community College. Participants came from Washington, Oregon, Alaska and parts of Idaho.

“It’s pretty intense, but not so intense that they can’t handle it,” Hartman said. “The experience makes for a better competitor.”

This year, the Gliders program will be adding a cross-country camp for middle schoolers. The camp will be Aug. 22-26.

Quinn Eddy: 392-6434 or isspress@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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