TEACH ME Boynton Beach Track Club coach Clyde Harris diagrams up the proper discus throw to Courtney Harris (left), 9, of Boynton Beach, and Kiana Allen (right), 10, of West Palm Beach, during practice last week at Boynton Beach High School(Lindsay Moore, FPG / April 20, 2011)
For coach Clyde Harris, Destini Wilson is the kind of child who is very caring and doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings when it comes to competing for the Boynton Beach Track Club.
While that approach bodes well for the fifth-grader at St. Mark Catholic School , it may not be the right approach for Wilson in the high jump, according to Harris. The 69-year-old would like to see his pupil unleash that competitive edge.
At 11 years old, Wilson has the opportunity to break Stacey Destin's national high jump record for sub-midget girls inside the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) track conference. Destin, 14, who is a regular contributor for Harris, set the sub-midget bar at 5-feet three years ago.
"My goal is to break her record," Wilson said. "I practice hard, and try to jump as high as I can to keep my legs going over." Mother's Day contest: Share your favorite mom story and you could win a $100 gift card
As motivation, Wilson keeps recording artist Nicki Minaj's hit 'I'm The Best' close to her heart throughout Harris' practice sessions, which take place Monday, Wednesday and Thursday each week at Boynton Beach High School.
That practice paid off for Wilson in the AAU Junior Olympics competition last year, when she won the triathlon event at age 10 in the Bantam Division in Norfolk, VA. Now, it's time to repeat that performance in the sub-midget division's high jump in the upcoming Junior Olympics national meet in New Orleans.
Harris, who has spent the past 10 years instructing track and field at the local facility, can't wait to watch Wilson go after the record, while guiding the others through their respective events.
"It doesn't get old," said Harris, who spent 38 years teaching elementary education at Plumosa Elementary School in Delray Beach. "Their energy gives me more strength."
Since retired, "but not tired," as Harris likes to say, the longtime Boynton Beach Parks and Recreation Department helper can thank Ja'Kavian Williams for giving him the energy to continue.
Williams, a first-grader at Poinciana Elementary School in Boynton Beach, gets it done in his favorite event—the 100-meter.
"It shows off my talent and my speed," Williams said. "I make sure to stay in my lane, so nobody gets stepped on. Also, I make sure to make it to the finish line. I say, 'I got to get to the finish line'."
Whereas Williams is running away with the primary boys' division, the 11-year-old has his sights set on other records. Currently, Williams is ranked No. 1 in the 100-meter, as well as the 200-meter, the 400-meter and the long jump.
"He's focused on the game plan," Harris said. "He has the will power to just go."
It's evident from each practice session that Gabrielle Kiminyo, 5, is following suit. The kindergartener at Unity School makes the most out of the 400m and 800m events, but called her favorite the 100m dash.
"I like the 100m dash because you just have to go straight," Kiminyo said. "I stay in my lane because I don't want my spikes hitting someone. I love that I'm going for a medal when I run. I'm happy to get one, and then I wave at my mom."
Harris loves the competitive spirit of Kiminyo, whom he noted has the best focus of anyone on the team. As the leader of the Pee Wee (4-6) age group, Kiminyo keeps things in perspective at the start of each race, where she prepares to ease in on the competition.
The Pee Wee boys' relay team of Jamari Smithen, Christopher Henry, Mekhi White and Christopher Johnson are on the rise, while Lakesha Smith and Crystal White have made vast improvements from last year. The veterans for Harris are Curtis Smithen, Charquez Frederick, Jamal London, D'Marco Augustine, Damain Tucker, Bryan Robinson and Courtney Harris. Those speedsters are ranked No. 1 in the bantam boys' relay, the 4x100-meter relay and the 4x400-meter relay.
Alternate runners inside the local track club are Tyris Thompson and Stephen Cox. Others with sold state rankings include Amber Power, Asia Robinson, Latasha Smith, Alexa Williams, Rosemary Thompson, Tatyana Stewart, Idalis Fisher, Destin and Wilson.
Along with the sub-midget high jump record, the 14-year-old Destin has the midget high jump record (5-6.5) set at 12 years old, and the sub youth high jump record (5-9) set at 13 years old.
"The game plan always is to come out and give it your very best," said Harris, who charges $65 for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) card, a track shirt and a trophy at the end of the year. "We started in February and it's going great."