Track club brings positive energy to Compton
Sprinting to success the ‘Imani’ way: the Imani Speed City Track Club has been a staple of positive energy for Compton and neighboring youth for 19 years BY DENNIS FREEMAN COMPTON—The “Hub City” has a lot more
Sprinting to success the ‘Imani’ way: the Imani Speed City Track Club has been a staple of positive energy for Compton and neighboring youth for 19 years
BY DENNIS FREEMAN
COMPTON—The “Hub City” has a lot more to offer to its youngsters than the proverbial “urban rap” music. The message in the music does not always make the right impression for this city often stigmatized by violence.
There are many other outlets here capitalizing on youthful energy.
Participating in track and field is one of them. The Imani Speed City Track Club has been a staple of positive energy for Compton and neighboring youth for 19 years, giving aspiring Olympians and would-be track stars a boost of faith and inspiration, fueling them to go further in life than they can imagine. The name Imani, itself is Swahili for faith.
“Every time something positive happens or such or if we’re doing something positive, the media is nowhere to be around,” said Imani Speed City Track club head coach Steve Todd. “They kind of feed off the negativity and the shadows instead of bringing light to when something positive does happen.”
For many of these kids, Todd and the track club have been a light of encouragement amid a backdrop that is not always positive. It gave light to NFL star Richard Sherman, U.S. Olympian Lionel Larry (400 meters) and a bevy of youngsters looking to get a leg up on the right track to higher achievement.
“It’s given the kids [an] extracurricular activity to do after school, burn energy, and they learn how to deal with each other in life,” Todd said, adding, he doesn’t want any kids to be left behind because of the lack of opportunity.
Imani track coach since 1996, the year of its conception, Todd has been a shepherd for many of the athletes that have joined his program. The Imani Speed City Track Club is more than just a track club for Todd; it is family. The club sent 32 athletes to the Junior Olympics in 2014, and represents hope to achieve. Since he founded the team, the track club has sent athletes to the Junior Olympics every year since its founding, a laudable accomplishment for an organization that struggles with finances to ensure its athletes are able to compete on a par with larger, more economically sound clubs.
At a recent invitational at Gahr High School in Cerritos that attracted more than 1,100 athletes, a portion of the gate benefited the Imani Track Club, giving it much-needed capital to send another round of athletes to the Junior Olympics.
“This is a meet that brings kids from all around the Southern California area to compete against each other in track and field,” Todd said. “It is a big event; a fundraiser [enabling] us to take these trips (Junior Olympics) once in June, [bringing] some recognition to the children and our community. There are still positive things happening in Compton.”
This year the Junior Olympics will be held in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s very expensive,” Todd said. “Last year, we took about thirty kids to Houston, Texas, and that was about $30,000. It lightens the load off the parents. We try to make it as inexpensive as possible, and try to get the kids some exposure, nationally, and get them out of the community [to] see what the rest of the world is like.”
The Imani track club works out four days a week, Tuesday through Thursday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Dominguez High School in Compton. Donations are welcome.