By Spc. Zoe GarbarinoMay 15, 2018
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The Fort Stewart "Rockets", a child and youth services track team, competed in the Georgia Recreation and Park Association Track and Field State Championship, May 5, in Commerce, Georgia.
The track team consists of military dependents between the ages of 7 to 14 who love to run.
With the help of a few active duty Soldiers who volunteered to be coaches, the Rockets were able to take home five state titles.
1st Sgt. Isaiah Taylor, first sergeant of Company E, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is head coach of the track team.
After a long day of working with Soldiers, Taylor said he spends his evenings educating kids about running techniques and teaching them how to recover after a good run.
"I've spent years running in high school, college and on club teams," said Taylor. "My love for the sport is what made me want to coach. I just want to share my knowledge with the kids."
Sharice Alston, an ophthalmologist at Winn Army Community Hospital at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and team mom said she noticed her son had an appreciation for the sport when he was only four years old.
"His dream is to run in the Olympics, and my job as a mom is to help him achieve his dreams," Sharice said. "He watches videos about Olympic runners and references their training techniques. He applies them in practice and races his friends for motivation."
Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Alston, a culinary specialist from 703rd BSB, 2nd ABCT and assistant coach of the Rockets said he uses coaching his son's team as an opportunity to spend time together when he is not deployed or in the field.
"This has helped the relationship between me and my son because it's something he enjoys doing," said Timothy. "When he sees me there with him every step of the way - through the wins and losses, it helps create a bond that he will never forget."
Keeping in mind that members of the team are young, the coaches said they encourage the young athletes to give it their all at each practice and meet.
"The coaches really care for the kids and they make them work hard," Sharice said. "Their passion pushes off on the kids and the kids return the same energy."
Many of the athletes on the team have the same ambition as the Alston's son. The coaches said the children run nearly four miles each practice and most of them view practice as an incentive.
"My parents are very strict on me about my grades," said Tilman Smithbey, a member of the team. "If I don't get honor roll, I'm not allowed to run or practice. My goal is to be the fastest 9 to 10-year-old boy in all the races I do."
The Rockets are now preparing to take 30 runners to compete in nationals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida in July.
If you are interested in volunteering or enrolling your child in Fort Stewart CYS Sports and Fitness program, call (912)767-5079.