New Renfrew Track Club takes shape
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
Renfrew Track Club.
Renfrew Track Club members at the recent Ontario club cross-country championships in Kingston are, from left, Connor Bennett, Logan Goulette, Mckinley Ripley, Sam Agnew and John Pettigrew.
November 29, 2012
Track and field in its various forms, including cross-country running and road racing, has been around Renfrew for a long time.
But now more serious, young athletes have an alternative to leaving town for formalized coaching and training.
Some Renfrew-area residents join the high-profile Ottawa Lions. But for youngsters making a more serious commitment to the sport, travelling time for training and an annual membership fee of more than $1,300 may be too much to handle.
An alternative is the newly-formed Renfrew Track Club, under the direction of Renfrew Collegiate Institute grad and current University of Ottawa student Travis Holmes, 25.
Memberships will vary between $35 for non-competitive members to more than $130 for those who compete in sanctioned competitions. Most of that fee consists of the Athletics Ontario membership.
Holmes, who’s majoring in English and political science, earned a full track and field scholarship to Kennesaw State University in Georgia. He represented KSU from 2007 to 2009, then transferred into third-year bachelor of arts degree studies at the University of Ottawa.
Holmes, whose best on-track time was 8 minutes 49 seconds in the 3,000 metres, was also an NCAA Division 1 all-academic in the Atlantic Sun Conference for cross-country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field.
Holmes doesn’t have any formal coaching certification, but he plans to change that by enrolling in coaching courses to augment his own competitive experiences.
The sport, says Holmes, has taught him the importance of taking responsibility for his actions and choices in life.
“Without track and field, I would never have been accepted to any university because I would have never had the drive to stay in the classroom,” he says. “I want every Renfrew Track Club athlete to stay focused on the track and in the classroom.”
“Distance running is my specialty, but I have to gain familiarity with the sport’s various disciplines,” says Holmes. The club also plans to approach a couple of local throwing coaches to see if they’d like to work with RTC athletes.
Renfrew Track Club was formally affiliated with Athletics Ontario in October, in time for club members to compete in the provincial club cross-country championships. In that event, over Kingston’s Fort Henry courses, Sam Agnew placed 64th in the youth (juvenile) race and Mckinley Ripley was 69th in the midget division.
The club’s first six members include former Opeongo High School sprinter Kathryn David, who now attends St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, and RCI middle-distance runner John Pettigrew, who won the junior EOSSAA cross-country title this year.
“We’re focusing on high school athletes and some Grade 7s and 8s,” said Holmes.
The club also has some plans to stimulate interest, including an early-summer training camp in Renfrew and competing in Orlando’s Disney Track and Field Showcase for high school athletes in March.
Holmes describes the Renfrew Track Club as a non-profit running club that provides a positive and affordable lifestyle through athletics. He says it’s also intended to help foster student-athletes who are competitive at the provincial, national and international level.
“I want to give some kids the opportunity I never had,” said Holmes, who didn’t develop into a competitive athlete in his own backyard.
He often travelled three times a week to Ottawa to do training sessions with the Ottawa Lions.
He said the experience was invaluable, but he says local athletes should be able to develop closer to home, without the pressures of extra travel and expense.
Holmes says he wants the Renfrew Track Club to become a training home for area athletes that creates a sense of camaraderie as well as an elite training environment that benefits from the motivations and experiences of club members. To learn more about the Renfrew Track Club, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Travis Holmes at 613-433-7119.
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