On Tuesday and Thursday evenings for the first five weeks of summer, the Hopkinton High School track and surrounding fields are flooded with campers, coaches, and parents all dedicated to the sport of track.
 
In the summer of 2011, the Hopkinton Parks and Recreation Department opened a track and field program for residents aged three through fourteen. Now in its second year, the program, which holds 130 students, introduces its participants to track and field with the help of experienced coaches and parent volunteers.
 
“There are summer programs for almost every sport, so I thought it would be nice to let the kids have some exposure here,” said Brian Hall, Hopkinton High School’s Track and Field Coach and, along with Jean Cann, Program Director for this camp. “I was a part of the Needham track program, and on any given night they would have 300-400 kids there from all surrounding towns. I thought that was a really nice, low-key way to introduce them to the sport of track.” 
 
The coaches are all members or alums of Hopkinton High School’s track team, giving them the necessary qualifications for helping younger students learn the sport. “They try to do it by specialty for coaching,” said coach and recent Hopkinton High graduate Hannah Krueger. “I’m pretty much always at jump or high jump if we have it.”
 
The camp’s young coaches were all eager to help introduce the students to track and field. “I run track for Coach Hall, and he contacted me earlier this summer asking for my help,” said Hopkinton High School student Taylor Dourney. “I love kids, so I thought this would be a great way to share our experiences with running and get the kids involved at a younger age so that they’re more interested in joining track once they get to high school.”
 
Cameron Fairbanks, a Hopkinton High School graduate now running for Westfield State University, enjoys the opportunity to reconnect with his alma mater through his favorite sport. “It’s a great way to keep in contact with the school and the kids,” said Fairbanks. “It’s nice to see how many people show up.”
 
Parent volunteer Joe Markey, whose children are enrolled in the camp, praised the program’s goals and methods. “It’s a little less structured than some of the other activities that kids have available and it’s all outdoors on the field, which makes it fun for the kids,” said Markey. “And I’m a runner, so the kids enjoy doing something I highly value. They like to be able to take part in running too.”
 
Markey also noted that, like the younger staff, the parents involved are veterans of the sport as well. “A lot of the parents who are volunteering to help the high school staff are members of the Hopkinton Running Club.”
Michelle Wielding, whose children both participate in the program, spoke highly of the camp’s dedication to exposing students to all facets of track and field. “My daughter loves it because she signed up thinking it was running, but then she learned all these other things like the javelin and the long jump that she had no idea had anything to do with track,” said Wielding, adding, “I love it because they get home after running all night and they’re exhausted!”
 
The track and field program also features a variety of backyard games. “They love ‘Duck, Duck, Goose,’” said coach and Hopkinton High School graduate Lindsay Hall. “It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve played it, it is their favorite game.”
 
The program costs $40 for pre-school students and $70 for elementary and middle school students. The camp runs from 6pm to 7pm for the former and from 6pm to 8pm for the latter.
 
“We tried to keep it cheap,” said Hall. “Jean [Cann] and I aren’t taking any fees for this, and we’re paying the counselors babysitting money. So many of these athletes want to do it just to give back and share the sport.”
 
For more information, visit the Hopkinton Parks and Recreation Department Summer Program website: http://www.hopkinton.org/parks/pdf/SummerBrochure2012.pdf.