Issaquah Gliders alumni return to coach, support track and field team

July 31, 2012

By Brandon Adam

Runners from local municipal parks and recreation teams jump at the starting gun for a 1,600-meter race hosted by the Issaquah Gliders recently at Issaquah High School. By Greg Farrar

Joanne Hartmann has volunteered with the Issaquah Gliders for 15 years.

The Issaquah Gliders is a track and field team featuring events for young children between ages 5 and 14.

The program functions as an athletic experience to introduce young children to track and field, and overall health and wellness.

The program “is to gain an appreciation for fitness for running outside, running in all different kinds of weather,” Hartman said.

She said the focus of the program is to have children and their families participate in the program.

“Hopefully, they will be encouraged to participate in a lifetime of fitness,” Hartman, 49, of Issaquah, said.

As lead coordinator, her responsibility is to organize practices for the young children being introduced to the sport.

Hartman said she feels positive about the program’s philosophy.

“I feel very excited about it, it’s very youth-focused,” she said, “so everyone has fun, and running is a lifestyle activity.”

The track program features modified events for different age groups.

“They can learn the correct form and correct technique,” Hartman said. “The implements are improvised.”

Certain events vary between age groups in terms of distance, and weight of projectiles thrown, such as a shot put and a javelin.

On the Web

Learn more about the Gliders program, philosophy, track meet schedule and coaching staff at www.thegliders.8k.com.

Before Hartman began volunteering for the Gliders she came from Eastern Washington as a teacher.

“I moved here when I graduated from college and got a teaching job,” she said.

One unique aspect about the Gliders is that alumni come back to support the team and assist in coaching.

“I write the practice plan. They coach it,” Hartman said.

Drew Matthews, a 2012 Skyline High School graduate, will run for the University of Kansas next spring. He currently coaches sprints for the Gliders.

Matthews has only good things to say about his personal experience with the  program and Hartman as his coach.

“The Gliders changed my life,” he said. “I found track by accident and it has taken me a long way.”

Throughout his school years, Matthews ran cross-country and sprints.

“I started in the first grade,” he said. “I was on the team up until last year and now I’m a coach for the first time.”

Matthews said he appreciates his 12 years of being coached by Hartman.

“It’s meant a lot to me that she has coached me for that long and allowed me to come on the coaching staff,” he said.

Matthews said he likes that Hartman brings enjoyment to the Gliders program.

“One thing that Joanne stresses is to have fun, so everyone has an equal opportunity to have fun,” he said.

Matthews will study business at the University of Kansas and will run sprints.

Another coaching volunteer who participated with the Gliders is Matt Frerker, who also graduated from Skyline. Frerker recently finished his fifth year at Portland State University.

“I met her when I was in the sixth grade.” Frerker said of Hartman. “Since then, I’ve been running with her and coaching with her for almost 10 years.”

Frerker said he finds Hartman’s coaching to be a positive asset to the Gliders.

“She’s a great influence on the kids,” he said. “She really understood me as an athlete.

When Frerker became involved with Gliders he soon got his friends to join in.

“We started running with the team and once I got old enough I started volunteering and started coaching,” he said.

Frerker graduated from Portland State in 2011 and is currently finishing his master’s in accounting.

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