In November of 2017, Dedan Jackson of Canton registered his daughter, nine year old Amber, for the Ann Arbor Track Club Youth Division’s Rec & Ed indoor track season because, “it is the most highly recommended program in the area.” Amber, who “had fun, is excited to run and likes being healthy” has continued with the Youth Division, officially called the Ann Arbor Flyers, and is now in the midst of her very first outdoor track season.
“Everything I heard about the program, I have seen with my own eyes,” Dedan assures. “All of the coaches have good connections with the kids, and Amber who is a natural runner, has bought into the system and now understands that training is a big part of running.”
Dedan believes that Amber will improve quickly and gain the confidence and inspiration needed to run competitively.
Amber’s newfound journey is one in which AATC Youth Division Director, Ron Beasley, has seen many times but “never gets old.”
Beasley started with the Flyers in 1997 as a volunteer, but three short years later, he took over the program and has been running it ever since.
“We had ten kids in 2000,” Ron recalls. “Now we have approximately two hundred fifty and a much more solid program including nine coaches, nearly half of whom are USATF certified.
“Practices, designed by the coaches, are improved which has resulted in better trained athletes, some who are nationally ranked.”
While the achievements are extraordinary, Beasley is quick to stress that there are no talent requirements to join the Flyers, only desire.
“We cater to all skill levels. Our Rec & Ed program is for kids aged 6 – 13 who just want to have fun and gain fitness. They learn the basics of running, and many progress to our Elite/Travel Team and compete in a variety of AAU and USATF certified meets.”
Beasley reiterates that there are no skill requirements nor are athletes required to make every practice or compete in every meet. Very simply, “Communication is key.”
Dedan enthusiastically shares, “I am so impressed to see that Ron knows the names of all the kids!”
That along with a flourishing program is what happens when you have a leader who genuinely, “loves the sport.”