Kids all over the nation have qualified for the Athletic Amateur Union (AAU) Junior Olympics this year and four of them are from our community.
The kids are lead by their coach Keith Reed, who works with kids from all over and does not discriminate amongst the schools. He said, “We are not a school function, and it is open for anyone.”
The four kids that qualified are Hunter Creswell in the 17-18 girls age group, Kelby Whithrow in the 17-18 boys age group, Josh Mattila in the boys 15-16 age group and Bridger White also in the boys 15-16 age group.
The AAU is hosting this national tournament in Houston, Texas, and the team plans on leaving out on August 1.
To cover the funds for the trip Reed is having a yard sale on July 28.
He explains that this is an expensive trip to take the kids on, but he does not want to hold the kids back. He also said that if by some chance he doesn’t raise enough money to cover the expenses he is willing to come out of pocket to make this happen for the kids.
He has been coaching during the summer for pole vaulting for the past eight years, and said he almost retired but he had a couple of new freshmen come out to train with him.
“As long as they want to come out and participate I’ll come out and teach them,” said Reed.
What he has been doing during the summer is holding practice three times a week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for the kids that want to come out and keep their skills fresh over the summer and learn to better their fundamental skills.
Reed also said the team goes to a few meets during the summer, but they don’t go every weekend, because he said it would be too much.
He said the schools around here don’t have coaches to train these kids, and he is trying to provide for their interest during the summer.
“I don’t step on coaches toes around here,” said Reed. He also said that if the kids want his help they have to come to him and ask.
The equipment he uses comes from schools around the area. Reed also said he bought a few of the poles the team uses, and some of the kids also bought a few.
With a few of the poles he bought Reed said he drove to Illinois to pick them up.
“If my kids are beat, I want it to be because they were out jumped not because they were out equipped,” said Reed.
They practice at the Sonoraville football field, and the school allows them to use the pole vaulting pit, according to Reed.
The practices they hold are extremely laid back, and the team focuses on learning the fundamentals and bettering their selves, according to Reed. It is also open to anyone interested in learning. He has kids from ages 11-18 that he coaches.
“It’s not what I teach, but what the kids put in,” said Reed. “Whatever they put into it is what they get out of it.”
Most of the kids he coaches are still in high school, but Hunter Creswell is actually going to Bernau University in Gainesville on a track and field scholarship for pole vaulting.
He explained that she has always been talented, but as soon as she signed her scholarship she became very dedicated.
Reed said the other kids are also very talented. Kelby Whithrow, has only been beat one time in his age group.
Reed explained he had a kid last year that graduated, and then walked on to a college pole vaulting team, and came back during the summer for practice and told coach Reed that everything he is learning in college is what coach Reed had taught him during the summer.