By: Conor Revell
Tiffany Westmoreland was saddened by the violence in Louisville last year and decided to start something to try and change that trend.
Westmoreland started the New Generation Track Club to try and keep low income kids busy and off of the streets away from violence and drugs. Most of her athletes are currently in the elementary and middle school age range.
“I used to be a basketball coach, that’s what I was going to do for my nieces and nephews,” Westmoreland said. “But they weren’t athletic enough to play basketball and I saw what was going on in the community and I knew had to start something. If you can’t run, you can jump, if you can’t jump, you can throw, so I started a track and field club.
“Kids started to sign up as I posted pictures of my nieces and nephews on the internet. Our first meet was April 21st last year. We had several people that came in first place and then we went onto AAU where we traveled to Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas.”
Like the majority of her teams, Westmoreland dealt with similar situations growing and felt the need to give back.
“I want to keep these kids busy and keep them off the street,” Westmoreland said. “I don’t want them to become another statistic. I need that.”
She graduated from Iroquois High School where she played basketball, volleyball, softball, and ran track. She went to Spalding and graduated with a BA in psychology in 2002.
The program started last April and has grown significantly from 13 to 21 (eight are girls) kids and they are giving kids experiences they never could have imagined.
“I just want to see the program grow,” Westmoreland said. “At first it was mainly for family. Other kids have wanted to join and have fun. I asked every kid what their goal was for this year and that was to make it to the Junior Olympics. Our goal is to take everybody whether they qualify or not just so they can see it. As of right now it looks like six of my kids are going to make it.”
In just their first year, eight athletes placed between 1st and 13th during the AAU Kentucky District Qualifier held in Lexington, Kentucky.
“The most rewarding part is to see their faces when they see their times have improved or their faces when they beat somebody they had lost to the previous week,” Westmoreland said. “I just love to see their work ethic and I love to see that they want to be on the track. Most of the times kids want to be with technology inside.”
Five of Westmoreland’s athletes went on to qualify for the AAU Regional Meet held in Knoxville, Tennessee.
While succeeding on the track is important, Westmoreland is more focused on encouraging the kids to do well in school.
“We talk to the kids about completing their homework,” Westmoreland said. “We talk about behavior in class. The majority of my kids have ADHD or ODD or other behavioral issues. We take care of that. If they don’t do well at school, we will take care of it. We try to tell them that it’s for you not us. If you don’t make the grade, you’re going to run extra laps or you’re going to miss a meet. They don’t want to hurt the team so I haven’t had anybody miss a meet yet.”
And then there’s the travel aspect, only two of her kids had been out of the state and only one had stayed in a hotel before joining the team.
“When we went to our first meet in Ohio last year, only two of our kids had ever been out of town,” Westmoreland said. “Only one of those kids had stayed in a hotel. When we to Texas, we went to the Gulf of Mexico and saw the ocean. They saw the jellyfishes and it was amazing to see their faces. I want these kids to see that there is a world out there to see. In the future I want to take the older kids to colleges to talk to athletes even if it’s not track and field just so they can learn what they need to do to succeed.”
With most of these kids coming from low income family, there are no fees for being a member of the team as they rely on donations and fundraisers throughout the year.
This is their wish list:
- Starting blocks
- Running shoes
- Track Suit
- Travel bags
- Starting blocks
- Speed hurdles
- Speed chute
- Speed sled
- Transportation (rental 15 passenger van or minivan)
- Hotel Accommodations
This is a list of fundraisers throughout the year:
- The Penn Station located at 4000 Dixie Highway from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 20th will donate 10 percent of any ones total bill when our certificate is presented. Westmoreland can email, mail or deliver certificates.
- They will be having a Gift basket raffle on June 3rd. The basket will contain chocolate, gift cards and a tablet.