Sports scholarships are a great way for kids to go to college and not break the bank. A track and field club in East Baltimore wants that chance for all of its young runners.
"One! Two! Three!"
Garfield Thompson, head coach of the McKim track and field club, does quite a bit of counting when he's working with his kids. They do a lot of conditioning before they get to run.
"They're learning the proper running mechanics, how to breathe, how to compete," he said. "They also learn how to have confidence in themselves and they're learning to push each other."
Thompson and his team work with a group of about 50 kids after school several days a week. They range in age from as old as 16 and to as young as 5. They practice on the track of Mergenthaler High School in East Baltimore, where Thompson went to school and competed in track.
"I feel like I never left," he said with a smile.
Thompson's quick feet got him quite a few college scholarship offers. Now he wants to show these kids, and their parents, how track and field can pay off.
"We want to educate the parents about the possibilities this sport can offer later on in furthering the education of their kids. This may be an avenue for them to get extra financial aid or scholarship money toward college."
It costs around $50 for each kid to participate in the McKim program. Thompson started a GoFundMe page in hopes of getting the price down.
"The goal is to have a $10 track club where kids can just pay $10 to participate," he said. "If we could make it free we would, but there are expenses that go along with it."
Not every kid who comes through McKim will become the next Usain Bolt, but they could further their education and they will definitely learn how to live a healthier lifestyle.
"They'll walk a little bit taller, they're more assertive. They look good and they feel good about themselves," Thompson said.