Continuing a proud tradition

To the Editor:

As one of the islandwide middle school track team coaches, I would like to take the opportunity to speak about our program. Recently there was a much-appreciated article about our team in the Islander called, “Young Runners.” This article acknowledged some very spectacular performances in our final competition of the season. However, our season is so much more than this closing event, and so I was inspired to clarify and expand upon some important information about our team.

First, I would like to mention that our team is not “newly combined” as the article stated. The islandwide middle school track team has been around for quite a few years.

Started by Bob Chaplin in the late 1990s, the original team consisted of only Emerson athletes for the first four years. During that time, Chaplin and his team were instrumental in forming the Eastern Maine Middle School Track League.

But Chaplin always envisioned that the team would become an islandwide team, and by 2004, MDES, Pemetic and Tremont all had joined. Each school came with volunteer coaches. In fact, most of these coaches were parents who were a moving force in helping the MDI Middle School Track Team get off to a very successful start.

Over the years, other island schools joined. Following in Chaplin’s footsteps was Suzanne Bracy, who was an assistant coach under Bob and head coach of the team from 2012-2015. Under her leadership, the team continued to function under the belief that the more students involved, the better.

Today, and for the past three years, Alex Johnson has served as head coach of this team. This year, the team consisted of seven schools, including Emerson, Mount Desert, Trenton, Tremont, Pemetic, Cranberry and Swans Island, close to 90 athletes, and nine coaches altogether.

As you can imagine, this is a recipe that makes for quite an exciting and accomplished season. Throughout the spring, we saw many incredible performances by many athletes. We value each athlete’s individual goals and experiences. These include, but are not limited to, taking a chance and joining the team, trying out new events, running faster times during races, jumping/throwing further, setting a personal record in an event or achieving a personal goal, qualifying for the final competition, coming through an injury to compete at the end of the season and much more. These are all accomplishments that are honored and celebrated.

This season was full of so many of these stories of success. We had a fantastic team of hardworking, focused, caring and spirited athletes. Watching each of them reach their goals is what makes coaching so very worthwhile.

Thanks to all of the coaches: Johnson, Andrew Carlson, Matt Servaites, Jacqui Carpenter, Chris Harper, Sam Dy, and Ingrid and Ric Gaither for their time and devotion.

Thanks to the athletic directors and school administrators for supporting this islandwide team. Thanks to the high school coaches and Bunky Dow for allowing and encouraging us to share the high school track and facilities. A very special thanks to the high school spring track athletes and their coaches for organizing and running our home meet. Thanks to the parents for all of their support throughout our season.

And most of all, thanks to the athletes who always came to practices and meets ready to perform their individual best and cheer each other on. It was a fabulous season! And it is an honor to be part of this team.

Kerry Taylor

Mount Desert

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