CHUGWATER – Although the Chugwater track team only has eight student athletes out for the team this spring, they are hoping to turn some heads as they participate in a full schedule of meets.
Shelly Van Why, head track coach has been teaching at Chugwater for 20 years and has been coaching for 16 of those years. Although she has coached junior high basketball and volleyball, track is her main focus this spring.
Van Why is a graduate of Chugwater school and has always coached in the small school setting.
“It gets really hard sometimes,” she said. “You try to get with the kids to try different things to motivate them. Even though they may not think they may be good at something, I always encourage them to go ahead and try it and sometimes they discover something they don’t think they could excel in.”
She says that she lights the fires under her athletes with lots of cheerleading.
“I try to make practice fun and I have a good group of junior high kids,” she said. “This is like their first experience, so we try to motivate with fun practices. With the recent inclement weather, sometimes I will set up ‘island tag’ in the gym so they still have a workout and still working out.”
Van Why said that the other challenge other than fielding a smaller team is the fickle weather.
“It’s wintertime many years for track in Wyoming,” she said. “There’s some years that we’ve had like two meets that we’ve gone to all season, so we are practicing a lot, but not competing. This year we have for high school six meets before regionals and state.”
The team is small in size and young in experience.
“I have a really young team,” Van Why said. “I have only two athletes that have done track before, one high school (Allie Van Why) and one junior high, (Ethan Van Why). The rest of them are brand new. I have some varieties this year, like I have some sprinters, shot put, distance, triple jump and long jump.”
Van Why doesn’t have the luxury that most larger schools have in that she has to coach every event. She does not have skills coaches in different events.
“I am on my feet all the time because I am coaching everything,” she said. “Most teams have a throw coach and a jump coach and your sprints coach, so here it becomes a challenge because I am all over the place.”
Last Saturday Chugwater sent two girls to their first track invitational of the season at Wheatland. Both Allie Van Why and Anjeline Moore competed and did well in their first outing. Van Why had a long jump of 12-05.75 and Moore recorded a jump of 9-03.00. In the triple jump Van Why recorded a jump of 22-08.75. Moore also participated in the 200 meter dash and recorded a time of 37.45.