Our family is driving on 76th Avenue West a lot. It’s the way to hockey, to skating, to one bus stop, and it feels like it’s always the way home. When spending that much time on or around 76th, you’re bound to see a marching band practice at least once — we live close enough off 76th to hear them coming — and you’re also very likely to see runners, the student-athlete variety. Earlier this week, I saw them coming out of Edmonds-Woodway High School and pointed them out to my son, who runs for fun at recess these days — “Look, that’s a sport!” I told him when he was older it would be an option for him and that his older brother, now in middle school, had friends on the cross country team.
In a total coincidence, that same night, one of the said cross country team member’s moms told me her son was loving the sport at the middle school level and she remembers that Boys and Girls Club had a team. Well, it turns out they do!
As a part of their Healthy Habits program, runners from kindergarten to 6th grade can join a cross country team at one of six elementary schools or — if yours isn’t one of the participating schools — can join the Main Club team, which practices at the Edmonds Boys and Girls Club building on the west end of Civic Field. The participating schools are Westgate Elementary, Sherwood Elementary, Hazelwood Elementary, Lynndale Elementary, Edmonds Elementary, and Cedar Valley Community School.
I spoke with Garrett Sanders, Healthy Habits Director at the Boys and Girls Club, about the program. He said the hour-long practices are twice a week and times vary at each location. He described the activity as an “intro to the sport,” which is not only exactly what we were looking for, but it is also great for those who are looking for a lower-commitment sports experience. And it’s especially great for those whose kids are already in a Boys and Girls Club after-school program. Thanks to a Verdant grant, the activity is FREE to those already in the club and for those who aren’t, there is a $30 membership fee, which covers the whole year.
The cross country season will include three meets — Oct. 13, 20 and 27. There’s a pancake breakfast after the first meet on the 13th, which was a major selling point over here. Sanders told me each meet includes a 1.2-mile-long course that starts at the Boys and Girls Club, 310 6th Ave. N., and loops through downtown Edmonds. He also told me that an adult can join his or her runner on the course.
Sanders told me that cross country was the first of four FREE sports offered through the Healthy Habits program this school year, all covered by the $30 membership fee. After cross country will be rugby, then lacrosse, and then track and field, which will include the javelin throw, shot put and sprinting. Sanders says that the program is designed, in part, to expose kids to sports that are a “little more uncommon.” In my experience, it’s true that when I hear of a kid playing lacrosse, I think “how did you find out about that?”
Boys and Girls Club also offers fall sports, which are separate from the Healthy Habits program and are subject to a fee and different practice locations. In the fall, they offer coed volleyball for those in 3rd grade through high school, soccer for elementary school students, and flag football for those 5 to 14 years old.
For more information on cross country and the Healthy Habit program, you can contact Garrett Sanders by email at [email protected] or by phone at 425-774-0630. You can also link directly to the sign up sheet. If you are looking for more information on before- or after-school child care or their fall sports, you can call the above number or find them online!
While we are talking about Verdant and all of the resources they provide, I want to share a great program they have for the 5 and under set. Each Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. they hold a Play and Learn Group at the Verdant Community Center on 196th next to the Party Store and across from Freddy’s. This group is open to children of all abilities, ages birth – 5 years old. Children and their adult are invited to join in “fun activities, gross motor play, and circle time let by trained staff — all designed to foster your child’s development.” You can find more information on the Learn and Play Group HERE or by calling them at 425-582-8600.
Verdant offers so much more than just this playgroup. They have guided local walks, cooking demos for all different ages, food types and health needs, and community events. You can find out more at VerdantHealth.org.
— By Jennifer Marx
Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.