January 23, 2008 > Olympians in Union City
Olympians in Union City
American Track and Field stars have a "reunion" at James Logan High School.
By Justine Yang
Olympic Champions Dick Fosbury, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Billy Mills, Mac Wilkins, Wyomia Tyus, and Eddie Hart are just the beginning.
On Saturday, Feb. 9, at James Logan High School in Union City, young athletes of all ages and experience levels will learn from world-class track and field athletes, named the best at their sport. Last year, more than 1500 students attended the Willie Davenport Olympians Clinic, where they spent most of the day training and receiving pointers from the record-setters and gold-medallists of yesterday, as well as notable Olympian coaches of the present.
Lee Webb, head coach of the James Logan Colts' track and field team, has been planning this impressive Olympian get-together for the past 21 years. The Willie Davenport Olympians Clinic will be the grand finale of James Logan's 22nd annual "Olympian's Week" which takes place Feb 5 - 9.
As usual, the clinic will be followed by the "Olympic Meet and Greet" and an auction in the evening. Athletes and track enthusiasts will be able to mingle with the Olympians in a relaxed, informal setting. Little if any profit is made from entry fees and the auction, but all proceeds go toward the Special Olympics team that Webb heads and to Olympians in need.
The Willie Davenport Olympians Clinic is open to all interested youth. "Our philosophy is to promote the sport, and to help as many people as we can, no matter where they live, or what school they go to," said Webb.
The clinic and following social gathering have plucked dozens of Olympians out of their homes, placing them again on a track to spark enthusiasm and dedication in youth. The clinic has become a tradition at James Logan, but the idea still sounds fairly unbelievable. "The Olympians like to get together," said Webb. But why did they choose Union City?
It began in 1987, when Webb contacted a few of his Olympian friends. Since then, the high school's "Olympian's Week" has spread through the Olympic Track and Field community. For the 2007 Clinic, more than 60 Olympic athletes and coaches arrived at this small city in the Tri-City area, eager to begin. Most of the Olympians who participated last year were athletes at the 1968-1988 games.
"The athletes back then competed because they loved track and field and were fully dedicated to the sport. It wasn't about money. They had no extra things like athletes do now. So it's harder to get the younger Olympians- they expect big bucks," said Webb.
Nevertheless, for most people, crossing paths with an Olympian would seem like a big deal. Webb looks forward to the Olympians' stay each year. "I think a lot of my team takes it for granted. I mean, these are some of the greatest athletes that have walked the earth."
This year, "Olympian's Week" will have another focus. Webb is eager to bring the Olympians to young audiences in the area. "We want to hit more schools, so they can share their life stories and preach what kids should be doing." He has already managed to add seven schools to his list.
To Webb, it's important to take the Olympians out on a mission to inspire youth. "We want to fire them up to achieve great things," he said. It is this winning spirit that has gotten the Colts so far in their history of track and field success. Four James Logan athletes have been selected for the World Youth Team since 2002. Several more have won events at the national level. The Olympics may not be a long leap away.
Much loved by team members for his devotion and energy, Webb's motto is simply: "You must believe to achieve."
To invite the Olympians to your local high school, contact Lee Webb directly at (510) 304-7172. For more information about Olympian's Week, visit www.logantrackandfield.com.
Saturday, Feb 9
Willie Davenport Olympian Track and Field Clinic
Registration: 8 - 9 a.m.
Clinic: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Cost: $25(includes bag, lunch, and learning from over 50 Olympic Coaches and Athletes)
Meet and Greet with Auction
6 - 9 p.m.
James Logan High School
1800 H St., Union City