May 3, 2024

Raymond Running Club provides fitness and fun for local children

By Kendra Raymond

A lucky group of Raymond kids have found the perfect outlet for all their spare energy: the Raymond Running Club. The recreation-led track and field team recently kicked off its 2024 season and the program aims to get young athletes active and outside, the perfect combination.

Raymond Running Club participants gather before a recent
practice at Saint Joseph's College in Standish. Made up of
students from Raymond Elementary, the program is a 
collaboration between Raymond Parks and Recreation
and Saint Joseph's College to inspire children to become
active outdoors. PHOTO BY MADDIE REDMOND   
Raymond Parks and Recreation Department has partnered with Saint Joseph’s College this year to provide a new and improved location for the club. Use of the college track has allowed the program to grow substantially, and participants are grateful for the fantastic opportunity.

Coaches are now able to measure distances and times more accurately than at the previous location at Raymond Elementary School. Plus, the running surface at the track is much better than the grass at Raymond Elementary School.

“We are extremely thankful to Saint Joseph’s College for allowing us to use their track this season,” said Raymond Running Coach Maddie Redmond. After years of using the field at Raymond Elementary, it is wonderful for the kids to participate while on a real track and field, and it also helps with planning practices. A huge bonus is having the Saint Joseph’s track and field athletes to mentor the kids this season. We had a Saint Joe’s athlete demonstrate the shot put at our first practice, and the kids loved it.”

The Raymond Running Club athletes meet once a week for about an hour to practice on the Saint Joseph’s College track.

Coaches and parent volunteers are always available to provide plenty of guidance and training. Runners are encouraged to practice good sportsmanship, have a positive attitude, and be willing to try new things.

Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Crocker says that he is encouraged about the future of the program. He said that the Raymond Running Club started several years ago with the addition of track and field last year. The club is home to cross country in the fall and the track and field program in the spring for younger athletes.

There are currently 36 runners in Grades 1 through 6 participating in the short but action-packed season.

Athletes compete in many track and field events including sprints, distance, and relays.

“We do modified events for this group including a soft shot put and Turbo Jav (a plastic javelin with a rubber tip,” Crocker said. “This allows the athletes to learn the skills safely. Everyone has kind of a certain thing they flock to as they go through the season. We like to encourage the kids to try a bit of everything.”

He explained that as the kids develop more focus on what they like, the coaches can fine-tune what they will work on with each athlete.

“There are so many rewarding parts of volunteering with this club. After coaching for many seasons, it’s so fun to get to know these kids, watch them enjoy the running club and continue to improve and learn new skills,” Redmond said. “I also could not do this without my awesome co-coaches this season including Ashley O’Brion, Abby Feather, Melissa Dlugos, Jackie Sawyer, and Stephanie Burke.”

Crocker says that volunteers are a huge asset, and the Raymond Running Club program couldn’t exist without them.

Raymond Running Club will host its first track meet of the season on Saturday May 18 at the SJC track. The team will travel to face other teams including Hollis and Old Orchard Beach a little later in the season.

“It’s great to work with other kids from different programs and makes it pretty fun for the kids,” Crocker said.

Registration is closed for this year’s program but keep an eye out for updates for the fall cross country season and other programs in the future.

“This club has come a long way from when it first started at Raymond Elementary School,” Redmond said. “This is a very popular program, and I hope it continues to grow. I also hope that our local community recognizes how important it is to collaborate to provide space for programs that may not otherwise have a facility. Will Rothermel, the Saint Joseph’s College athletic director, has provided an amazing opportunity for these kids. I’m really looking forward to this season.”

Updates about the program are available on Facebook or visit the Raymond Parks and Recreation website at <

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