If you are looking for what is right in sports, today’s column is for you.
Centre College track and field coach Lisa Owens is bringing the best track and field camp ever held in this state to Danville in three weeks. However, registration has been lagging — as noted in a column last week — in spite of the bevy of Olympians, including Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Tyson Gay, who will be at the Maximum Velocity Track & Field Academy.
However, the feel-good story comes from Joni and Mark Morgan, the parents of former Boyle cross country and track standouts Daniel, Patrick and Sam Morgan.
“Our family, particularly our three sons, have benefited in many ways from high school and collegiate track and field programs,” Joni Morgan said to explain why the couple, through Mark’s law practice, are offering a commuter scholarship to the Centre camp for one Boyle and one Danville track and field team member. “We ask that the coaches choose someone that has a passion for the sport and will be excited to learn from our nation's best track and field athletes.”
How impressive is that?
Owens has been perplexed by the low registration numbers, especially from in-state athletes as well as local athletes. She sees 300 or more participants — both male and female — at Centre soccer camps each summer.
“I am very disheartened and somewhat embarrassed that it seems like the majority of high school track and field athletes and coaches in our state just don't seem to be interested in spending three and a half days with some of the best professional athletes in our sport,” Owens said. “I wish that I could lower the price of the camp or just open it up to anyone that wanted to attend, but I have quiet a large amount of money invested in order to make this camp a success.
“This is not about myself or Centre College making any money. This was all about creating and implementing a track and field camp at a level that had never been done before and doing it in Kentucky, in our community, on our campus. Never before have 17 Olympic athletes come together in one place at one time for a high school camp of any sort.
“I do not understand how people who have a passion for track and field would not want to be part of this event. However, my hope is that when all is said and done I will be able to pay all expenses and be able to show the kids who have registered for this camp the time of their lives.”
That’s what we all should hope, and perhaps there are others locally who would like to make sure this camp is a success and draws the participation it should. We have such a generous community — I¿know a couple who will sponsor two youngsters at John Calipari’s camp in Danville in late June as well — and anyone who would like to help should contact Owens at Centre.
Both Danville and Boyle school officials quickly expressed their appreciation for the Morgans’ act of kindness.
‘What an amazing and truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for one of our student athletes. I can't wait to find out who our coaches choose,” said Danville superintendent Carmen Coleman, an avid runner. “I continue to be so thankful to be part of a community where kids are truly first. We will look forward to letting you know who will benefit from this fantastic opportunity.”
“Boyle County High School appreciates all the support the Morgans have given BCHS. We look forward to the next generation of Morgan student-athletes to come through BCHS,” Boyle principal Will Begley said.
Danville boys track coach Chris Verhoven was not surprised with the Morgans’ generosity because he’s seen many things they have done to support cross country and track during his 20-year coaching career.
“They have shown support for local athletes from all school districts, and are huge supporters of a much larger running community. Their giving spirit has been evident for a long time, and it did not surprise me that they once again are the leaders in our area to help others out,” Verhoven said.
He believes financial concerns, not the quality of the camp, are the main reasons for a lack of participants so far. He plans to have Owens come to one of his practices to promote the camp and has also offered to solicit other sponsors himself to help local athletes attend the camp.
This is a chance to establish something at Centre that will be talked about nationally, so if you would like to help, let Owens know now.
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Kudos to Casey County track and field coach Matt Willoughby for his pre-planning and weather awareness Friday before Casey hosted the Central Kentucky Conference Championships.
Here’s an e-mail he sent to track coaches Friday when threatening weather was a possibility:
“I have been watching the weather radar and it looks like we have a line of storms coming through this afternoon. If this happens during the meet we will have to get all the athletes and coaches back on the bus and because of the distance between the parking lot and the track we will have all spectators to go inside the middle school until weather conditions improve. In the case of tornado alerts, everyone will report to the interior halls of the middle school.”
Thankfully, bad weather stayed away and the meet was completed with no problems. But it was reassuring to see a coach with a plan in place in case it was needed.