By By Rick Musselman, Belvoir Eagle Sports EditorOctober 12, 2012
At 10 a.m. Friday, the iconic Olympic anthem arose from loudspeakers over Pullen Track welcoming more than 200 pre-kindergarten athletes, representing Fort Belvoir's Child Development Centers, to a day of athletic competition in the 2012 Pre-K Olympic Games.
The event, hosted by Child, Youth and School Services, and coordinated by Julie Libert, CYSS youth sports and fitness assistant director, provided the youngest members of Fort Belvoir's population the opportunity to compete in a variety of track and field events, including shot put, javelin throw, long jump, hurdles and distance runs.
According to Libert, the Pre-K Olympics is the largest athletic event she and her staff have ever staged for the post's pre-school age children and its success depended entirely on the tremendous effort of the many volunteers who contributed their time and work.
"This is a much bigger event than last year's Pre-K fitness event. We have about 250 kids this time," she said. "I got a lot of volunteers to help me out with this, too. We have people from Fort Belvoir Community Hospital volunteering and they've done an excellent job. Some of the Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers are here and we also have some of the Sergeant Morales Soldiers (an exclusive Army-wide club which admits only outstanding non-commissioned officers who promote leadership and honor among NCOs, named after a fictitious character who endeavors to not only serve others but also mold his Soldiers into proficient warriors and performs his duties to the highest standards.)"
"When you're talking about 250 kids and all the events we're going to be running today, the event would not happen without all these great organizations volunteering," Libert added.
"(Libert) is way too humble; she organized this entire event," said Air Force Tech Sgt. Tony Bennett, FBCH Air Force element, non-commissioned officer in charge. "This is such a cool event, seeing a miniature version of the Olympics. They've got a little javelin event, a little shot put and they're even going to have a little long-jump event. It's just too cool."
An important aspect of Friday's Pre-K Olympics was the opportunity the event provided the athletes to represent their own CDCs. Each child development center created banners for the opening parade and each group wore special handmade jerseys to represent their centers with pride.
"Every CDC on post has a team competing in the event -- the North Post CDC, the South Post CDC, the Markham School Age Center and the new JoAnn Blanks CDC," said Aricka Vaughan, CYSS youth sports specialist.
The athletes, coaches, teachers and volunteers began the event with a parade led by torch bearer Tyzhir Dyer, 4, and American-flag bearer Johanna Riesberg, 4. The participants marched around Pullen Track from the staging area to the main grand stands to prepare for the opening events -- the turbo javelin and shot put.
Throughout the morning, athletes took to the track and field with determination and a commitment to excellence, giving it their best efforts across the spectrum of athletic competitions. Hundreds of parents and Family members filled the stands and lined the track, cheering for their young Olympians. Servicemembers representing the Air Force and Navy manned some of the competition stations and helped the athletes out with tips and advice. Additionally, CYSS volunteers provided rest areas and water throughout the day.
Fort Belvoir's CYSS staff host a number of youth sports events throughout the year that, according to Libert, are part of the garrison's effort to promote health and fitness in children and to instill healthy exercise and nutritional habits at the earliest ages.
For more information regarding special CYSS youth athletics programs and events, contact Libert at (703) 805-9138 or Jerry Arrington, CYSS sports and fitness director, at (703) 805-9139.