A contingent of 18 athletes from Brooks Secondary School’s track and field program are attending the BC High School Track and Field Championships in Langley this weekend. Many of the qualifiers are attending the competition for the first time; for a few of the athletes, their discovery of a talent for their chosen sport was a very recent discovery.
“There were a couple of kids who just fell out of a tree,” said coach Scott Glaspey. “They are brand new and just jumped in.”
Kayden Piniewski and Mackenzie Sayer took up hurdling very recently, with no prior knowledge of the sport.
“We have these two kids who said ‘what’s a hurdle?’ a month ago,” said Glaspey.
Aside from latent ability, many of the students agreed their success comes down to the coaching expertise of Glaspey and former Olympian Connie Polman Tuin.
“It’s a cool opportunity to have them helping us,” said Sayer. “They give us proper technique.”
Piniewski agrees with Sayer’s assessment.
“We’re so thankful they are willing to volunteer their time with us,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
Haedyn Drosdovech, who came in first in the 100-metre tryouts, said the notes he receives from the coaches have made a big difference in his speed.
“They’ve given me pointers that have made at least half a second difference in my time,” he said.
Calli-Ann Abbott, who recently returned from her sophomore year at University of Hawaii on a track scholarship, is back training at the Timberlane Park track for the summer. Following in Polman Tuin’s footsteps, Abbott is a heptathlete.
Heptathlon is a multidiscipline track and field event comprised of seven events: 100-metre hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 metres, long jump, javelin throw and 800 metres.
“Connie and Scott were my high school coaches; they’re both amazing and helped me a lot,” said Abbott. “I wouldn't have gotten to Hawaii without them.”
Glaspey has been coaching track for a long time, he said.
“Since I was a kid,” he added. “I started in the mid-70s.”
He was also a coach to Polman Tuin. Having someone of her calibre is invaluable to young track hopefuls, said Glaspey, and having her focus on hurdles, long jump and triple jump has given Brooks a strong reputation.
“In those three events we are now provincially really tough,” said Glaspey. “We send the kids who can do those events to Connie and she builds them into killer bees. Within two or three years people will fear Brooks when it comes to hurdles.”
Track and field, like many sports in the community, is competing for the same group of athletes. Youth who excel at soccer, volleyball and hockey are often the same ones who could do well at track, said Glaspey.
Often it is only after other sporting commitments end that the athletes can join the track team. If they had the time to dedicate solely to track, Glaspey believes the team would excel even more.
“We have people who are trapped in other sports for much of the year,” he said. “Just imagine if we had those guys for three months instead of three weeks.”