By Emily Younker
Sara Hansen, the girls track coach at Joplin South Middle School, would like to pass along her passion for running to any student who is interested.
But not all students can afford a pair of running shoes, she said, and that’s why she is looking for donations of gently used running shoes that she can provide to students wanting to run track this spring.
“I just want to get kids moving with a purpose,” she said.
Hansen recently put out a call to members of Rufus Racing, a local sports event management organization, for pairs of running shoes that she can give to middle school students to boost involvement in physical activity. She said between 50 and 60 seventh- and eighth-grade girls at South — and about the same number of boys — have signed up for track this spring.
Hansen, who also coaches seventh-grade volleyball at East Middle School and assists with girls basketball at Joplin High School, said she would like to help any student in the district who has an interest in getting more involved in a sport.
“This isn’t something I want just for South,” she said. “If there’s a need for a North or an East kid, they can come to me, and hopefully I can find something for that child as well.”
Hansen said involvement in track — or any sport — provides physical, mental and social benefits for students.
“Just getting involved in extracurricular activities gets them into something positive,” she said. “It creates a lifelong love for the sport; it promotes health and fitness throughout their lives that they can do.”
Hansen, in her second year as track coach, said she saw many of those benefits in her girls last year. She started the season by getting a base time for her runners in their chosen events and updated those times each week.
“It’s a really quick, easy way for them to see that they’re improving,” she said. “I always give them a goal for them to meet to try to keep them motivated.”
The track season begins Monday and will last about two months, Hansen said.
Want to donate?
DONATIONS of gently used running shoes for coach Sara Hansen’s track team will be accepted at South Middle School, 900 E. 50th St.