GALVESTON – What began as an outlet to help steer at-risk local youth in a reputable direction has resulted in rapid success.
In its first season, Galveston’s Amateur Athletic Union Texas Fusion Track Club will send six of its 11 members to the Junior Olympics, which will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, from July 23 to Aug. 2.
“We wanted to provide an atmosphere for them to venture out, do work, meet new people and have positive role models and just have something positive for the youth going on,” coach Terrance Franklin, who founded the team in April, said.
In addition to helping the individual athletes, Franklin wanted the club to reinvigorate track and field sports on the island. He said he began the endeavor not knowing what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
“There hasn’t been this kind of atmosphere since I was in high school, which was about 10 years ago,” Franklin said. “Since Ike, there hasn’t been a team here. … The numbers just grew and, before you know it, we’re off and going.”
For a rookie team that didn’t even have a full season — the season for area AAU teams generally begins in March — under its belts, Texas Fusion defied expectations at the regional Junior Olympics qualifier meet held at Klein Memorial Stadium in Houston during the weekend.
“These are rare results for a first-year team, and, actually, we didn’t even begin at the beginning of the season,” Franklin said. “By the time the track season at the middle school and high school ended, the AAU season is already going on. We got a late start, but they’re a talented group and they worked to make it to the next level.”
The Texas Fusion athletes set to compete in the Junior Olympics include Jaylin Benefield, who qualified in the 100-meter and 400-meter runs; Zoe Boxley, who qualified in shot put and discus; Jordan Collins, who qualified in the 100-meter and 200-meter runs; Michael Fox, who qualified in the 100-meter run; Perry Preston, who qualified in the 100-meter and 200-meter runs; and Essence Thomas, who qualified in long jump and triple jump.
Franklin said he expects to learn from his AAU coaching experience this season to help grow the new club and continue to improve.
“I’ve grown and learned a whole lot more, so next year I’ll have more time for preparation and I’ll go in knowing more on what to expect,” Franklin said.
For more information or for those interested in supporting the Texas Fusion Track Club, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The club is open to kids in Galveston County and the surrounding area.
Although Franklin noted most current athletes are between the ages of 13 to 17, the club is open to ages seven to 18.