St. Louis Blazers Track Club was started in 1992 to provide running opportunities for youth in west St. Louis County. About a dozen kids from a handful of families were involved with Blazers during its inaugural year. Embracing the mission of teaching the sport of running to young people while making it fun, Blazers took off from there. Now in its second decade of existence, more than 500 kids from across the St. Louis Metropolitan Area have been a part of the Blazer family.
Needless to say, Blazers’ foundation is built around running. Some incredible athletes were part of the Blazers program when they were young. While it’s nice to boast that former Blazers have gone on to become Missouri State Cross Country champions, Olympic Trials qualifiers, members of the U.S. Olympic Triathlon team and so on, it’s more important that kids develop friendships and a love for running that continues long after Blazers as part of a healthy lifestyle. Blazers focuses on three principles to achieve its mission.
- Have fun – Running can be fun! If kids can find the fun in running, they are more likely to continue this healthy habit throughout their lives.
- Learn about running – Blazers strives to teach kids and their parents about the sport of running. Families involved with Blazers will come away with a wealth of knowledge about proper running form, running strategy and techniques, nutrition, stretching and the ins and outs of track and cross country meets, among other things.
- Improve – Success is not measured by how many races you win. Instead, Blazers focuses on individual improvement. For some kids that may mean seeing their times drop in a particular race over the course of a season. For other kids, it may mean they felt stronger as they ran hard workouts at the end of the season than they did in the beginning of the season. Blazers celebrates the effort put into a race or workout, not just the time on a stopwatch.
“It’s more than a running club …”
Blazers has always been more like a family than a track club and many Blazers kids over the years still maintain the friendships that started on the track many years ago. Blair Porter, a long-time Blazers’ coach, describes it best: “It's been more than just a running club, it's been a place for kids to ‘fit in,’ have fun, share new experiences and learn lessons about self-discipline, patience, goals, long-term achievement and self confidence. I've always felt like the kids on Blazers learned much more than just how to be a good distance runner. As I continue to know those same kids as adults, it reinforces to me that Blazers is something special.”