The Los Angeles Jets track club offers cross-country and track and field teams for children ages five to 15 years old. Both girls and boys can participate in track and field and cross-country, according to the Jets track club website.
Runners for the L.A. Jets can practice running from 100 meters to 3000 meters, relay races, hurdles, shotput, javelin, long jump, mini Javelin, and Discus, according to the LA Jets website.
In 2014, the youngest division of the cross-country team reached the Junior Olympics. Their efforts would rank the team at number 1 in the 2000-meter race, according to the USA Track and Field organization website.
Cross-Country practices begin in the fall, according to club consultant James Robertson. He coached boy’s track and field for the LA Jets for over 30 years.
“Usually more than half our kids normally play football during the football season,” Robertson said. “But we have a few kids that do the cross-country and what we allow them to do is do the cross-country with the girls.”
The track and field team begins practicing in February and they participate in up to 18 track meets. The season culminates with the Junior Olympic Nationals in July, according to former L.A. Jets girls head coach Booker Woods.
Coach Woods has coached for the Jets for 40 years and previously had his own track club.
“I came aboard on 1978 because I had another club that I was working with,” he said. “It was the Mount Olive Roadrunners club.”
To qualify for the Junior Olympics, the runners must qualify for the regional competition during the Association Championship Meet. Then they must qualify for nationals, according to Woods.
The L.A. Jets host two meets, The Relay Carnival and the LA Jets Invitational. The Relay Carnival takes place during March; this event teaches parents how to be involved in the sporting event. The LA Jets Invitational is a national event, according to Woods.
“We have clubs from all over the country come to that meet,” he said. “We usually have like anywhere from [2,200] to 2500 athletes at that meet.”
Ron Moore founded the LA Jets in 1973. When Woods started as a coach, he only had 7 runners. Now, the track and field team has since expanded.
“I had like 30 girls and then they continued to bring more girls,” Woods said. “This year, we had 114 girls just by word of mouth.”
The boy’s track and field experienced fluctuations in attendance, going from having 20 boys in the 1970’s to 80 boys in the early 2000s. However, the attendance declined in recent years, according to team consultant Robertson.
“We’re probably back to our ’78 status where we only have 25 kids,” Robertson said. “We hope to have a lot more athletes next year.”
For Robertson, he enjoys using his influence to help the runners grow.
“It’s been very rewarding in the sense that I’ve been able to see a lot of young men go on to be productive citizens of the community,” Robertson said. “To be in it for over 38 years like I have, you have to get something out of it and that’s my reward.”