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FHN Students Began Running in Track Through a Club Team Before High School


Credit to Sam Cary

By Sam Cary

For some high school athletes, the first day of tryouts their freshman year is the first time they have played that sport, especially for FHN track and field. However, a few FHN track runners grew up as members of the St. Charles Cyclones Running Club. This program allows young athletes to start competitive running as soon as their seven years old.

“Getting out there and running in general is going to create a fitness base, and this is going to naturally translate to any other activity that someone wants to do,” Kenneth King, Cyclones coach and retired FHSD teacher, said.

The club started after coaches King and Larry Bynum noticed the St. Charles Boys and Girls Club, which offers after school activities to youth, not paying attention to their track program by lack of funding and training. This led King and Bynum to start their own running club.

A few distance runners on the current FHN track team spent a couple years running with the Cyclones. These athletes are juniors Hannah DeGraw and Chloe May, and senior Heidi Hauptman.

According to May and DeGraw, youth athletes are able to get more than just running technique out of working with the Cyclones. Previous athletes feel that the program helped them grow as an athlete and a person, shaping them into a better athlete than when they started.

“Running track influenced me significantly before high school in many different aspects,” May said. “I began running track competitively, on a club team, at the age of nine. It wasn’t always easy, but the obstacles I faced along the way shaped the person that I am now.”

For other runners, like DeGraw, memories that will stick with them throughout their careers were formed during their time with the Cyclones.

“Going into my eighth grade year, I was a member of the Cyclones 4×800 team,” DeGraw said. “This team was able to beat the previous National Champions during a meet, and it is one of my favorite Cyclone memories. Not only that, but through my time with the Cyclones, I learned important life lessons like mental toughness.”

For other athletes, the Cyclones track program was able to build a foundation for other sports. For freshman Alli Vernon, she was able to use the Cyclones program to prepare her for upcoming soccer seasons by helping her become a faster runner and become stronger mentally.

“I started running because I had soccer and I wanted to stay in shape,” Vernon said. “I was also able to meet a lot of new people and create memories that I know will stick with me.”

With the program coming up on its 25 year anniversary, coach King still feels that it only benefits youth athletes to be a part of the program like it did for DeGraw, Hauptman, Vernon and May.

“Even if track and field isn’t your first love or your first sport, just the training will help you with whatever else you are doing,” King said.