B.T. Striders head to Junior Olympics
The road to success begins early for a local group of young athletes, the B.T. Striders Youth Track Club.
The track season starts in November. For the next seven months, the team practices three days a week. During the winter months, they compete in indoor track meets, including ones in Birmingham, Alabama, and Houston. Then, in the spring, the outdoor season begins. Nearly every other weekend, the B.T. Striders travel to Houston on Saturdays to compete.
In June, weekend track meets give way to the four-day National Qualifier track meet. It is at the National Qualifier where this group of young athletes compete for a place in one of the highest track and field events in the country: AAU National Junior Olympics.
Five years ago
Coaches Jeff and Patricia Hulon officially started the B.T. Striders Youth Track Club in 2010. However, this husband and wife team actually began working with six local kids, including their son Jeffrey Hulon, in 2009. The group attended four track meets that year. The next year, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and USA Track and Field (USATF) sanctioned the B.T. Striders, which had then grown to 13 members, as an official track and field club.
Both natives of Memphis, Tennessee, the Hulons participated in track and field from an early age all the way to the college level. Jeff Hulon earned a track scholarship to the University of Memphis where he majored in electrical engineering. There, he ran the 100 meter and 200 meter during the outdoor track season, and the 60 meter and 300 meter during the indoor track season. (His personal best time in the 100 meter was 10.18 seconds.)
Patricia Hulon was recruited at a young age to run with the prestigious North Memphis Track Club with whom she traveled the country. In high school, she became State Champion in the 400 meters, and, she too earned a college track scholarship. She graduated from Austin Peay State University (APSU), where she ran the 400 meters, as well as the long jump and triple jump. Notably, she became one of the top triple jumpers in the nation during her time at APSU.
Today, the Hulons continue their passion for running with the B.T. Striders. They strive to instill a sense of dedication, hard work and a “can do attitude” in the young athletes that join them on the track three-days-a-week for practice.
The B.T. Striders now includes more than 50 athletes.
“We have 58 kids on the roster from ages 5 to 16. Thirty-three kids competed at the National Qualifier in Houston and twenty-eight made it to the National Junior Olympics this year,” says Jeff Hulon.
It’s their love of sport and of teaching that has propelled the Hulons and their B. T. Striders to not only compete, but to thrive in competitions. In addition, there’s another trait that follows this team wherever they go: pride in their hometown.
“The B.T. Striders take great pride in representing Beaumont, Texas; hence the name B.T. (Beaumont Texas) Striders. These kids are positive reflections of Southeast Texas as they compete across the country,” adds Hulon, whose team includes athletes from Beaumont, Silsbee, Buna and Port Arthur.
AAU Junior Olympics
The B. T. Striders will represent Southeast Texas in Des Moines, Iowa, from July 26 – Aug. 2 for the 2014 Junior Olympics, which will be held at Drake University.
Monica Bottley, age 9, from Silsbee describes being a part of such a prominent event as “wonderful.” Bottley will be competing in the shot put and turbo javelin at the Junior Olympics, along with her twin brother, LaMarcus, who will also be throwing the shot put and turbo javelin, as well as competing in the 1500 meter race walk. For two years, the Bottleys have been members of the B.T. Striders track team — or family, as many refer to it.
“You are on a track team and also members of a track family,” explains Christina Bottley, Monica and LaMarcus’ mom. “Our region is always represented well by families who love track and the area we come from!”
Marquez Thomas, 15, joined the team in 2010 and will also be headed to Junior Olympics. Thomas will be competing in the 4x400 meter relay. Thomas, describing the impact that the B.T. Striders have made in his life, said, “Track has taught me that things don’t come easy in life. You have to go get it. Track shows me how to be hardworking, have self-confidence and be a good leader.”
Thirteen-year-old Courtney Adams, who has been running since the third grade and will be competing in the 400 meter and 800 meter at the Junior Olympics, says that running keeps her motivated not only on the track, but also in school. “Track teaches me to stay focused, to believe and to strive for greatness,” explained Adams.
Verona Adams, Courtney’s mom, added, “The B.T. Striders is a quality organization with family values and with very dedicated coaches, kids and parents.”
Cameron Deshotel, who competes in the 11-year-old age group, is also excited about the upcoming Junior Olympics, where she will run the 100 meters and 200 meters. Deshotel has been running with the B. T. Striders since 2013. When asked how track has impacted her life she says, “It allows me to do what I love and gives me the opportunity to go after my dreams.”
Among the 28 athletes who will be traveling to Des Moines is Hulon’s son, Jeffrey Hulon. Hulon, 15-years old, will be competing in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters and 4x400 meter relay. “Track has taught me to do my best and not give up,” said Hulon, who describes his parents as “hardworking, caring and having love for everybody.”
And it’s precisely that love: the love of sport, the love of teaching, the love of instilling a winning attitude, that has propelled this B.T. Strider family to the prestigious track and field stage of the 2014 Junior Olympics.
The road has been long and rewarding. However, the best is yet to come. In two weeks, 28 young Southeast Texans will arrive in Des Moines, Iowa, to show the nation their talent, their spirit and their pride.
To learn more about our local B.T. Striders Youth Track Club, visit their website at www.btstriders.com or contact Coaches Jeff and Patricia Hulon at (409) 347-8017.