After the rain clouds parted and the sun shined through, the Taylor Thunderboltz track team geared up for practice Monday evening, June 24 at the rain covered Taylor Middle School track. Leading, teaching and training the young athletes that range in ages 11-16 are coaches Tommie Garner, Taylor Shelton, Don Williams and Collin Sanford.
The Thunderboltz track team has been around Taylor for roughly 10 years. Some of the youngsters often compete against others that are older and still come out on top.
“Taylor is a phenomenal place,” Garner said.
The team competes in events ranging from relays to javelin, from shotput to triple jump, never missing an opportunity to showcase their abilities.
Garner spoke highly of all of his athletes from 11-year-old Leah Roy all the way to the tall Branson McCoy. He truly cares about them all.
“We are here to teach life lessons not only track, to understand the overall vision,” Garner said.
One of the athletes, Garner’s son, Jarvis Anderson is hearing impaired and broke five records in the Round Rock school district. He attends school there due to the fact that Taylor does not offer accommodations for him.
“I pray for the day Taylor can accommodate him, because we are Ducks,” Garner said with pride.
Anderson also competed on the U.S. Deaf Olympic team in Turkey, as a representative of the Thunderboltz.
Blowing the whistle and running drills with the squad was Coach Williams from the Texas School for the Deaf. With nearly 40 years of experience Williams volunteers his time to help turn the young runners into All-American athletes.
“Without him the team could not function, or have the success we’ve had,” Garner said.
The teams competitive spirit shines through. Not only are they athletically strong they are academically strong as well. With numerous accomplishments they follow a “No excuses, I did my best mentality.”
Coach Sanford has been the team’s biggest and best motivation. After a stroke at a meet in Rockdale the team came together to always give their 110% for their coach, who still, with the assistance of his wife Judsonia, attends practices and meets. He has become more than a coach; he has become the heart of the team.