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Club prepares kids for next level

Published: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Kyle Bursaw – kbursaw@shawmedia.com)
Coach Nick Schneigert braces himself Tuesday as Alex Taylor (center) and Alex Andrews, both 9, hold on as they stretch out at the start of practice at Sycamore Community Park for Northern Illinois Athletics, a youth development cross country program.

Nick Schneigert saw potential for something bigger as co-head coach of the Huskie Track Club.

Schneigert saw other teams training year-round with cross country and indoor track clubs, so he hatched the idea of a cross country club in DeKalb.

“After talking to several youth coaches, they said it would be a great idea to have something in the DeKalb-Sycamore area,” Schneigert said. “It’s growing and it’s been successful so far.”

Schneigert started the Northern Illinois Athletics cross country club this fall.

The team didn’t have as many kids as Schneigert envisioned in its first season, but each of the 11 athletes on his team have dropped significant time throughout the season.

Four of his athletes – Noah and Chloe Wester, Alex Taylor and Lili Walker – will compete in today’s national cross country championship in New Mexico.

“When you see kids improving leaps and bounds from the Huskie track club all the way until now, running a PR every race, you know it’s a successful program and it makes me feel very proud of the kids,” Schneigert said.

Schneigert isn’t necessarily putting a specific target on where he wants his athletes to place or what times he wants them to run in New Mexico.

He simply wants them to know what it’s like to run in a big-time cross country meet.

“I want them to get the experience,” he said. “It’s a good idea to start them at this age, and hopefully in the future, they’ll just be veterans on a cross country course.”

Because of a lack of funding, Schneigert wasn’t able to make the trip to New Mexico to see his athletes run, but he hopes as his program builds, numbers and sponsors will rise.

Schneigert has been a volunteer assistant cross country coach at Rockford College, and will be an assistant track coach at Geneva this year, so he knows what it takes for his athletes to be successful.

Above all, Schneigert wants to prepare these kids for the next level. He wants them to learn what it’s like to train hard, and what it’s like to be a part of a cross country team.

“WIth my experience coaching high school and college, I know what the kids need to be prepared once they go to that next level. They know the different types of workouts … they’re learning about the proper form, the proper stretches, nutrition. My hopes are that they’ll be competing at the high school level and my hope is that they’ll compete at the college level, and have them be prepared.”

After Saturday, Schneigert and his team won’t be done for long – indoor track starts on January 7.

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