Bay Port Track Club ensures bright future
Bay Port girls’ head track coach Vic Murphy addresses members of the Bay Port Track Club (Melinda Palzewic photo).
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – Not only do the Bay Port track and field teams win conference championships, but they also work with youth in the Howard-Suamico School District (HSSD) to make sure the future is bright for the team.
Hundreds of area HSSD students ended a month-long session May 16 with a fun-filled meet as part of the culmination of the Bay Port Track Club (BPTC) for the year.
The BPTC – which has a fee of $25 – is held on four Wednesday night’s starting in late April and going through mid-May. Participants need to be in grades two through six to take part. The fee gets your child a BPTC t-shirt, a good time and a chance to learn technique from those that know best – the Bay Port High School coaches and the high-school track and field athletes.
“We probably started with 30 kids way back in the late 80s,” said Mike Jameson, who is the high school cross-country coach and one of the main organizers of the BPTC. “This year we had 220 kids sign up. We also have like 50 kids from the high school working to help run it. We do it because we hope it sparks interest in track and field and they continue as they get older.”
The third week was cancelled due to inclement weather, but during the other three sessions, the youngsters took part in various field and running events, while also working on stretching and agility.
John Demerit started up a Junior Olympics program for Bay View Middle School and St. John’s 7th and 8th graders around 1974. When the middle school track program started up at Bay View, Demerit started a Saturday morning track club
“I was in the BPTC when I was in third grade and took it really serious,” said senior Bailey Cisar, who has helped out with the BPTC all four years she’s been in high school. “It’s good to see all the kids participate and see how much fun they have. It’s also fun to see the young talent and keep their spirits up. Unless a student moved into the district at a later time, the majority of the kids on the high-school track team were in the BPTC when they were younger. It definitely opens up your eyes to the different events.”
Jameson and head girls’ coach Vic Murphy speculate (un-scientifically) that approximately 75 percent of the track kids in the high school went through the BPTC.
“We were doing something similar when I graduated from Bay Port in 1986,” said Murphy. “Track is in a lot of family’s blood and kids like to run. They find that the club is so well established and it shows in our success at the high school. We even have parents of our athletes that were BPTC kids.”
Murphy is not aware of any other high schools in the area that have such a program.
“It surprises me a little bit,” added Murphy. “But if you look at it, it’s not easy to put on – It’s such a community event. You have to have the support of the parents, track staff, students and school staff. It’s all a part of that Bay Port athletic family. You can’t do it on an island.”
The high-school athletes teach their specific event to the participants. Murphy also pointed out that high schoolers know they are role models, so they make sure they have fun with the kids and give plenty of high-fives.
The boys’ team just won the Fox River Classic Conference title May 15 and has won the title four of the past five years. In total they have won five FRCC titles since the conference was founded in the fall of 2007. They were also the 2015 WIAA D1 state champions in the team competition and have had numerous individual state champs go through the ranks the past few years as well.
The girls’ team has won five of the last eight conference titles and six total.