The future of track and field: 192 youth athletes compete in four-day summer camp

A large group of middle school girls attended the Steamboat Springs Youth Track and Field Camp at Gardner Field from Monday, June 5 to Thursday, June 8, 2023.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Over 190 future high school track stars assembled at Steamboat Springs High School’s Gardner Field this week for a youth track and field camp hosted by the high school’s track and field athletes and their coach Lisa Renee Tumminello. 

The four-day camp ran Monday-Thursday and gave young athletes an opportunity to run, jump and throw while working with older students who were in their shoes not too long ago. 

Participants ranged from kindergarten students all the way to eighth grade, and each group had the chance to take on high jumping, hurdling, long jumping, sprinting and modified throwing events. 

This was the eighth year of the camp, and Tumminello said it has grown in popularity each year. 

“What really changed the trajectory was getting the high schoolers involved in being the coaches,” Tumminello said. “Some of them have siblings here and some of them took work off all week long to be here.”

The first three days of camp consisted of working in stations and learning the basics of each event within the scope of track and field. 

The high schoolers were there to mentor the younger athletes and offer advice to some of the more experienced competitors like rising eighth-graders Carson Dressendorfer and Jordanelle Neeley.

“The high school input really helped,” Neeley said. “For athletes who are already doing track and field, it is really motivating and helpful to get someone that is older and does the same thing as you. It’s great preparation for high school.”

Steamboat Springs High School graduate Casey Wolf coaches a young athlete on running the 4×100 meter relay during a youth track and field camp at Gardner Field on Thursday, June 8, 2023.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Learning and working in a low-stakes, comfortable environment made everything much easier for the girls to absorb the knowledge. 

“There are coaches from the high school that did certain events and specialized in jumps for example and they helped us and gave us tips on what they would do,” Dressendorfer said. 

One of those coaches was recent Steamboat Springs graduate Trevor Harms, who said he was surprised by the maturity of his students this year. It has been a blast for Harms to see his athletes get stronger and faster over the years and incorporate what he teaches into their workout. 

Harms was primarily a distance runner for the Sailors but took on triple jump over the last couple years. He said triple jump became a favorite within his group and seeing the students pick up a challenging event so quickly was very rewarding. 

“I decided to teach these guys triple, which most groups did not do because it is kind of a pain,” Harms said. “They all got it really quick and when we went over to the jump pits today, most groups did long jump, but they wanted to triple jump. Some of them were jumping really far and it was cool to see that.”

As in any sport, track and field is experiential. According to Tumminello, when students get to try new sports, they learn what they can do with it and where they can take it. 

A major driving factor of this camp was to show young athletes each aspect of track and field events and there is a whole lot more to it than just running. 

“One of the reasons I believe track and field is one of the best sports is because there are so many different sports within the sport of track and field,” Tumminello said. “It is OK if you don’t want to run. You can throw or you can jump.”

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