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The best sport for athletic and character development

All my life I have been a lover of sport. Sport, in its many variations, has afforded me an education, friends, travel, my adult career, and largest investments. Along with my wife, sport has truly been the great love of my life. Looking back on my athletic career, as not just an athlete but also as a coach, each sport offered its own unique benefits and opportunities. No other sport had a greater effect on my athleticism, and more importantly my character and work ethic, than Track and Field.

In terms of athleticism, running is fundamental to all sports and often the most sought after attribute by coaches. At the collegiate and professional level, athletes that are “fast” are nearly always given preference over competitors that have greater sport specific skill development (position players). This is generally because, at the highest levels there just isn’t time to “re-teach” someone how to run powerfully, smoothly, and efficiently. In short, speed kills, and learning to run correctly is something athletes from all sports should be actively pursuing as it is the true litmus of athletic ability.

My most important take away from track was the accountability of a sport that is absolute. There are no referees, there are no bad calls, nobody is a starter because they are a favorite or they “know somebody”, there isn’t an “eye test” like football, baseball, or basketball. Track is simple, there is nobody to blame, not a referee to rob you, no favorites. It is an athlete against a stopwatch, and with that, one of the purest of sports. Track for me was a sport that brought home the concept that my successes and failures were my own.

This is most exemplified by the scholarship process for collegiate Track and Field. Are you a scholarship athlete? If you are a male 1500M runner and want to go to USC, you can go to their website and they will tell you. Run 1500M in 3:47.00 for a scholarship, 3:56.00 to walk-on. If you are a young woman and want to run the 400M for the University of Hawaii, you must run a 55.00 for a scholarship, 58.00 to walk-on. There are no questions about who you played against, it makes no difference your club team, travel team, no highlight reels, none of that matters, just your verified race time.

ALL athletes should compete in a Track and Field program from a young age, until at least their Freshman or Sophomore year of High School, not only because it is the building block of great athletes, but because it is the foundation of becoming a great sportsman.

The mission of Northwest Speed School is to direct both corporate and private donations to bring athletic expertise to native, low income, and rural populations throughout the northwestern United States. For feedback on this article or information on how you can involve your young athletes in any of our programs please email us at

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