It’s almost time to shine for a group of local runners.
The Huntsville Steppers Youth Track Club is gearing up for an exciting end of the month, with a pair of relay teams set to travel to Greensboro, North Carolina for the AAU Junior Olympic Games. The club’s 4x100 boys and girls 8U relay teams will compete in the event, which is scheduled to take place on the campus of North Carolina A&T University from July 26 to August 3.
Both the boys team — James Williams, Savion Kimble, Joseph Franklin and Sammy Kimble — and the girls — Aissa Berotte, Ariah Sharp, Jamiyah Anderson-Wiese and Abbii Berotte — secured their spot at the Junior Olympics by winning at the Region 17 National Qualifier Meet earlier this summer.
“It's exciting,” said Dominica McKibbins, who fills a variety of roles for the club, in addition to serving as the team’s “mother figure.”
“It's get very tedious sometimes, but overall it's a good feeling. We don't have a lot, and it takes a lot of time. ... You just have to continue to push them and do what you know is best.”
The Huntsville Steppers are a youth track and field team that competes from February through August, with athletes ranging from 4 to 18 years old. Dominica’s husband George and his longtime friend David Stroughter started the club in 2012, and it continues to grow each year.
“It was reaching out to kids,” Stroughter said. “There's not a ton going on in Huntsville, so we came up with an idea to help some of the kids. … Me and him have been friends for years. I was sitting around one day, and he called saying he was thinking about starting a track program. I was like, ‘Yeah, let's do this.' That's where it all started.”
In addition to serving as an extracurricular activity and hobby for the athletes, some have even used their time with the club as a way to better their future.
“We’ve had several of our kids receive scholarships and go onto college,” Dominica said. “These players inspire our younger kids and show them that with hard work, dedication and good grades, they too can achieve their dreams.”
The Huntsville Steppers are holding a fundraiser later this week to help cover the costs of their trip to North Carolina, which will include hotel stays, food and other travel expenses. The event is scheduled to take place Friday at NAPA Auto Parts, 374 Highway 75 N, beginning at 10 a.m.
For $10, community members will receive a turkey leg, bread and water, with all proceeds going toward helping these young athletes. Donations and sponsorships will also be accepted until Friday. Those interested can contact Dominica McKibbins at (936) 662-5449.
“The club has grown tremendously,” Stroughter said. “With the community behind us, it's going to grow even more.”