WESTPORT, Conn. – All children know how to run.
This summer, Jesse McCray is trying to help them run more efficiently in a track camp at P.J. Romano Field at Saugatuck Elementary School in Westport.
McCray’s camp, which is sponsored by Westport PAL, features three, three-day sessions in July. Boys and girls in grades 3-8 learn running techniques that can improve their performance in almost every sport they play.
“We just want to introduce the kids to the sport of track and field,’’ said McCray, the head coach of Staples girls' track and field team. “We teach them about how to stretch, introduce some speed drills, and work with them on running more efficiently.”
McCray believes many children get turned off by track and field when the focus is on running long distances.
“They think they’re going to have run miles or repeats of 400 meters,’’ McCray said. “I told them we’re going to run anywhere from 10 to 30 meters. The focus isn't on running a lot of miles.”
At Tuesday's camp, McCray had children focus on knee lift and posture. McCray, who also is an assistant coach for the Staples' football team, has seen children enter high school with a variety of running styles.
“I can tell what sport they played when they come to high school just by the way they run,’’ McCray said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just a certain style. There are some things we change to become more efficient.”
McCray threw weight events in high school and has built an impressive resume at Staples. He has coached 25 school record holders, three state champions and a New England champion. He also i the meet director for the Nutmeg Games, which will be July 21 in New Britain. He hopes the kids who come through his camp will be part of his high school team.
“In the long run, it makes my job easier if they know some techniques before they get to high school,’’ McCray said.