POULSBO — It was a muggy, overcast Monday morning featuring the faintest drizzle falling from the sky which very easily could have yielded lightning at the 13th annual Thunderbolts Track and Field camp. Fortunately for everyone involved, the only electricity came in the form of speedy athletes.
Thunderbolts track and field camp, which runs through Friday, is one of the most popular summer events for children in the North End. Just ask 11-year-old javelin thrower Max Teising, who has attended the program for five consecutive years.
“I come to this camp every year,” he said. “I like track because it’s a lot of fun.”
Gary DeSanctis, who is in his first year in charge of the program, said his goal is for everyone to have a good time.
“The best part of this camp and even on the first day today, is seeing how excited these kids are to be out here,” he said. “I want them to develop a love for working out.”
This was evident during the first round of drills. Before campers hit the oval, DeSanctis had each athlete run through a mini-obstacle course on the football field. The exercise is designed to help get muscle groups warmed up to prevent injury. This safety measure goes along with the camp’s focus. DeSanctis said the venue puts emphasis on teaching athletes the proper technique for each event.
“Our camp motto is focus, fitness and fun,” he said. “We want every child to set some goals and accomplish them this week. It’s great for each athlete to feel a sense of accomplishment.”
North Kitsap High School junior Nicole Bazar is serving as a volunteer coach for the Thunderbolts program.
“I love working with kids. It’s so much fun and they have a lot of energy,” she said. “They’re good listeners.”
Fellow volunteer coach Stephanie Habner is serving as a sprint coach for the athletes.
“It’s good for them to be doing something over the summer that’s productive,” she said. “Running is something they can do for the rest of their lives. You can run anywhere.”
Most importantly, the camp is teaching children to bond as a team, Habner said.
“Track is a sport where you spend a lot of time with your team members,” she said. “This camp is teaching them how to develop a close bond with people around them.”
Volunteer distance runner coach Tristan Sewell said the biggest hurdle is keeping the kids’ attention.
“The challenge is in keeping their intensity every day,” he said. “I try to show them how much I enjoy the sport of track and hope that it rubs off on them. My hope is to get each kid interested in sports.”