Parent involvement a hallmark SK youth track and field club

It lacks the glamour of Little League, but the South Kitsap Jaguars Track and Field Club has become a staple for young athletes in the community.

Former Port Orchard residents Jim and Cathy Missel created the club 11 years ago, and two years later handed the reigns to Lloyd and Mary Pugh.

Nine years since taking over the club, Mary Pugh said participation continues to grow every year.

“When it was created 11 years ago, 60 kids turned out,” Mary recalled. “This year, we have 190 kids, and it will continue to grow.”

The Pughs are no strangers to coaching. Lloyd’s resume goes back 30 years, which long tenures at South Kitsap and Bremerton high schools.

Mary coached volleyball at SK for 16 years before retiring from coaching last spring.

“Lloyd loves track and field and I love kids,” Mary said.

That combination has made for a successful track and field club that has people coming from as far as Poulsbo to participate.

Not bad for a club that could have ended after the Missels moved to Spokane.

“We figured if we didn’t take over no one would,” Mary said. “Lloyd likes to tell me that I badgered him into doing it. But you don’t coach track and field for 30 years and not love it.”

While the Pughs have been the organizers of the club, Mary said all the credit goes to the parents. “We don‚t pay for officials and we don’t require kids

to sell candy,” she said. “What we do require is that parents participate and volunteer at least four meets. We also have a training session for coaches so they know what they’re doing.”

The coaching can be a mixed bag. Made up of divisions that run from ages six to 18, most of the coaches are parents of the athletes.

Some have track experience and others are new to the sport.

But what makes the Saturday meets and twice weekly practices a success is the positive atmosphere, Mary said.

“We stress to the parents to encourage their children,” Mary said. “We try not to push the kids.”

That is another reason the kids come back every year.

There is no stress of winning and losing. There are no different colored ribbons based on who placed first and last. All 450 ribbons are the same

color and the cost of the ribbons are covered by a different sponsor every Saturday.

“It’s great that we find sponsors that are willing to do that,” Mary said.

In return what Pugh said she sees at the track and field meets are kids trying the best they can while having a good time.

Unlike sports teams where kids can get lost in the shuffle, Mary said the Jaguars gives children individuality and allows them set any goal they want.

“It’s great when you have a seven-year-old say, ‘I got a (personal record).’ ” Mary said. “We provide them a place where they can feel successful and we, the adults, have the job of cheering them on.”

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