The steward of Goliad High School track and field, coach Stacy Zamzow, is only weeks removed from an incredible 2021 spring season. His Tigerettes finished second in the state in Austin, and two of his offspring left the meet with championship gold.

Yet, Zamzow isn’t quite done with what surrounds the turf of Tiger Stadium, heading right back to the track for a children’s summer program. The twice-a-week practices and weekly meets for ages 5-13, says the coach, is a reciprocation of generosity.

“This is what I love, giving back to the kids,” he said. “I was given so much, and am still given (a lot), I just want to give back and give every kid an opportunity to experience this sport and all the great things it offers, and the fun that being active gives you.”

Running from late May through the end of June on the GHS track, the camp has been Zamzow’s brainchild for 15 years. He emphasizes not just running skills, but off-the-track excitement for budding Tigers and Tigerettes.

“We don’t make it a daycare,” he said. “It’s only an hour long, the parents kind of get involved, and it becomes a family thing, which we like a lot. The kids learn, and the parents learn that it’s about fun, it’s not just coming up here and working out.”

Working as a “small” outfit in the past, with anywhere between 10-20 participants, the 2021 summer track program has been flooded with renewed interest. During the first two weeks of practice, more than 60 area youths came ready to run.

Zamzow wasn’t quite sure of the exact reasoning behind the influx, but did say kids that were “pinned up” because of the COVID-19 pandemic now have an outlet to run off some extra energy.

“Parents are getting (kids) out, and you can see that they’re happy to get them out. It’s a combination of things. When you have a successful year, and things are fun, you tend to reap the rewards from that. I hope to keep it going, because it’s really good for the community.”

The practices are in what the coach calls an “organized chaos” mindset, similar to a physical education class. After a brief warm-up and stretching routine, boys and girls are split off into different stations. Boys begin with running events, while girls start in the field. Halfway through the practice, the genders flip locations for a well-rounded evening.

Other running staples taught are how to start out strong, the basics of sprinting, and something the coach says they “love here at Goliad,” hurdling events. The coach can’t do it alone, calling upon several coaches for assistance, including state champion daughter Addison, state champion son Cutler and state champion Tigerette sisters Karleigh and Kyla Hill.

“You have to have good help,” the coach said of handling practice. “And learn how to use a positive yet forceful voice sometimes, because the little ones want to be quite active. It’s a lot of fun, if you love what you do, you don’t mind and you’ll make a way for it to work.”

Sharpening skills on the track is combined with expanding the participants’ desire for further activity, whether in track or other athletics. Zamzow states that this is an ongoing collaborative process with the children, coaches and parents.

“It’s about having fun, not making it forceful that (the children) do it now,” the coach said. “Because if they’re forced to do it now, you’ll never see them in high school (athletics). They’ve got to want to do it, and (the parents have) got to make it fun, so let’s work. As long as I have that desire, I feel like this program will continue to be successful.”

The Goliad track hopefuls competed in their first meet June 3 in Goliad, with other meets throughout the season taking them to Taft, Yoakum, Skidmore, Woodsboro and Hallettsville.

•tleffler@mysoutex.com•

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