Running out of time to raise money for track warm-ups

KINGSTON — Kingston High School’s track and cross-country athletes have been competing at high levels since 2008 when the school opened.

Olympic League records show a number of high-qualifying state placers, as well as multiple students receiving full-ride scholarships because of their success over the years.

But after a decade, student athletes, logging many hours in the elements for athletic training, are without warm-up jackets.

In one of the most populated sports at the high school, this season’s track and field members top more than 80. With cross-country “running” through the fall months, and track season beginning in mid-February, parents and coaches are fundraising to purchase the long sought after uniforms to keep athletes warm and boost team morale.

Of the $4,000 needed to buy the warm-up jackets, roughly a third — $1,500 — has been raised. But parents and coaches fear that if the bulk order isn’t placed soon, KHS cross country and track runners will go another school year without warm-up uniforms.

“This year, coaches have 80 runners competing and putting out their best effort for track. The team has never had warm-ups to complete their uniforms, and it’s time we did,” KHS track parent Mark Larson said.

Kingston head track and cross country coach Lee Wilson said it’s something they’ve been working for and wanting to have for the athletes for a quite a while since the school opened to be exact.

“In the two sports we share the same uniforms, and both of these sports are what I consider wet weather, colder sports,” Wilson said. “This year for sure has been real wet, it would be really nice to have some warm-up jackets for them.”

Parents say, in the past, athletes have used mismatched coats, windbreakers and even blankets to stay warm in between competitions.

“It’s long days for track and field,” Wilson added. “There are 38 events in track and field for both girls and boys, and invitational events on the weekend that can begin at 6:30 a.m. and last until sometimes 8 or 9 at night. The kids are out in the elements for a long time.”

The jackets, serving as warm-up uniforms for both male and female athletes on the track and cross-country teams, are expected to be used by over 140 athletes over the year.

Though Wilson said the jackets are something the North Kitsap School District doesn’t have a budget for, he said parents are determined, planning to raise money through various fundraisers and bazaars.

“To buy warm-up jackets for that many kids is very expensive,” he said. “But especially in cross-country, we don’t have shelter. We run on trails, golf courses, and forests. They’re really out in the elements.”

The fundraising committee is asking for parents and community members for a $50 donation specifically for warmups to support Track and Cross Country athletes. Kitsap Brokers LLC. owned by Larson, is offering a one-time match opportunity for a corporate sponsorship for up to $800 to fast track the fundraising efforts.

In the unique sport, where all levels of athleticism can participate, the parents also say the use of the uniform goes beyond basic needs of students to stay warm and dry, it could also help their confidence by promoting team pride and appearance in the field.

“This motivates them to achieve better times to break their individual personal best record times,” Larson said. “Runners and field athletes compete against themselves, and when they set new personal records, they are achieving their goals and pushing themselves to a higher level.”

Kingston High School athletic director Richard Henert agreed.

“In all programs wide we’re working to catch up on a few years on the lapse of updating our uniforms,” he said. “But track is a unique sport, kids are out there in different elements, the warm ups for track take on a deeper importance to keep sprinters warm. They become a little more essential.

“It really does help with the overall moral of the team, if you look good, you feel good. It helps give energy to the team and for our school. It makes it more appealing for kids to come and try out for sports.”

Though the school has access to a 40 percent discount from Adidas Sportswear, but they need to place the initial bulk order — and fast, if they want the jackets to arrive by the start-up of the cross country season next school year.

“This is the biggest team at Kingston High School,” Larson said. “The need for warm up jackets for track and cross country is something to recognize. We’re hoping the community will reach out and help us with private and corporate donations, that will support these teams for many years.”

Donations can be made to the Kingston ASB and must have “Track” or “Cross Country” in the memo. They can be dropped at the high school, or mailed to Lori Camp at Kingston High School, 26201 Siyaya Ave. NE, Kingston, WA 98346.

Donations are 100 percent tax deductible. A receipt for tax deductions will be sent to you from the school offices: TIN #91-0754974.

— Sophie Bonomi is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. Contact her at sbonomi@soundpublishing.com.

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