Brampton Racers Track Club sets students up for success not just in sports, but in life too
Alexis Wright/The Pointer

Brampton Racers Track Club sets students up for success not just in sports, but in life too

The backs of their shirts read ‘Respect, Attitude, Commitment, Excellence, Responsibility, Success’. It not only spells RACERS but encompasses everything their club offers children, beyond track and field.

On a steamy Thursday evening, the oppressive heat rises over the track at Jean Augustine Secondary School where the Brampton Racers Track Club trains three days a week. Its athletes have compiled a remarkable competitive record over the past decade, with limited resources at its disposal. 

The discipline the youth have been taught helps them overcome the conditions. It’s all part of the work they put in, collectively.

“Brampton Racers are like a family,” Coach Michael Knight, one of the founders of the track club, says. “You’re not only here to train to run fast, you also come here to learn how to be disciplined, and to be helpful and organized. It's all about academics, too.”



Knight, known as Coach Mike, and his wife, Andrea, founded the Brampton Racers Track Club in 2011. They started out training with just five kids, and now have eight coaches who work with more than 100 youth every year.

“Yes, we're looking forward to seeing kids who can in the future represent Canada, and of course we’ll be proud that they come from Brampton Racers, but first and foremost want them to be good citizens who contribute to the community,” Coach Mike says. “We also want them to come back to help out. Help kids like them.”



“We have a lot of talent here in Brampton, we’re trying to foster it, but we need some help from the city,” he says. 

Coach Mike says the club has access to what is needed to operate only in the summer. The other eight months of the year, the youth don’t have a place to train. This significantly limits the ability to give children a space where they can go not just to work on their track and field skills, they are learning life skills to better themselves beyond the world of athletics.

“You see this, we have a lovely field outdoors, but indoors, we don't have much. That takes away from track and field. A lot of time, people don't know. A lot of parents, and kids, don't understand that track and field is a very big sport in Canada. But it mostly happens in the summer because we don't have a place to train.” 



“We’re making this community better, that's our number one thing,” Coach Mike expressed.

He says he sees barriers within the sports world, such as covering costs for equipment which many families cannot afford.

“Track is a very big part in terms of your health, physical and mental health. That’s going to help you in the long term. We have to start to look at sports in general, not only track, like part of the educational system and invest in it. If every kid takes part in sports, they're gonna get healthy, right? They don't have to compete, but at least they're going to be safe in the city.”



“The kids here understand how to work hard. They have dedication.” 

“Sport is also a part of how to work together, to come together as one. Unite. Then you can have a better community. We've tried to keep them off the street and try to keep them [engaged]."

Countless studies and real life examples have shown that when children are involved with extra curricular activities such as sports, they are more likely to do well academically, with more focus, structure and support in their life. It’s a healthy outlet in a safe place where they can be themselves, around the guidance and wisdom of dedicated mentors. 

For its work, the club was awarded with the City of Brampton’s Sports Achievement Award last year, as the outstanding team, recognizing the performance of almost two-dozen athletes who excelled in competition.

But this type of recognition, while appreciated, does not pay the bills. Requests for accessible washrooms and storage containers for medical equipment have been denied by local officials.

“I would like to see the government invest in sports, that's what’s going to help us. They want the kids off the street and we want to do that but they’re not doing much of anything right now. They understand it is going to make them be [better members of society].”

“That's what we tried to foster. Brampton Racers are doing that.”



“We have a lot of volunteers, we have eight coaches. They're working very hard. They volunteer their time, and they're putting a lot of effort into this. Building it with heart. If it wasn't for the dedication of the community and people like the coaches and the volunteer parents, we wouldn't be here. So we want to thank all the parents for what they do. They say it takes a village. We can’t do it alone.”

The annual Minor Track Association of Ontario is hosting the MTA outdoor track and field championship at Jean Augustine Secondary School in Brampton Saturday and Sunday, July 29th and 30th.



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