Tonawanda News


July 24, 2013

Off and running

Ken-Ton summer track program gives children, teens basis in sport


Tonawanda News — While the program started with older children, those about 6 or 7 years old, it expanded to include younger brothers and sisters who accompanied their siblings to the track.

"It was experimental at first ... and now they're the most enthusiastic ones there," he said. "They'll run and jump forever. Running and jumping, they're natural. It's just structured play.

"It's pretty unique that we have 3-year-olds running 400 meters. If they have to walk, they walk."

Many of the program instructors came up through the program as children, including sisters Jenna and Lexi Panepinto, who shared Tonawanda News Co-Player of the Year honors for girls track in 2011 and now play soccer at Colgate University.

Jenna Panepinto and her sister started running when they were about 5, and continued all the way up until their years at Kenmore West.

"It gives (the kids) an understanding of what it's all about," she said, watching a group of 6-to-7-year-old girls approach on the track. "Obviously it's for fun, but it gives them a good basis, just to know all the types of events they have. It definitely helps, especially for the future.

"And it's awesome, seeing a lot of them coming back and seeing how well they progress."

And progress they do. Susan Sperrazza of the Town of Tonawanda, mother of 3-year-old Jillian and Gianna, 5, said both girls have grown in focus and ability during their summer mornings at Crosby Field.

"They like it. They look forward to it every day," she said. "(Jillian has) learned to stay in her lane, to listen to directions ... to take directions from someone other than me. (Gianna) has learned she likes running. I hear about it all the time. It's a great program."

This marks the third year in the program for Gianna, who said she's learned "how to run really fast."

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