Young athletes shine at Jr. Olympics

Some of the best young athletes in San Diego competed at Carmel Del Mar over the weekend in the regional Jr. Olympic Skills Competition. The majority of students from the Del Mar Union School District competed in track and field, soccer, basketball and tennis.

All of the events were individual - in basketball it was a timed shot competition for points, in soccer it was a timed goal scoring session and in tennis it was a rally competition against a wall. In track and field, students leapt in the long jump and then sprinted in a 50-meter dash.

The top five ranked athletes nationwide will go on to compete July 23 to 26 at the Jr. Olympic Nationals at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. Nationwide results won’t be known for another few weeks.

Katharin Roth, a physical education teacher at Carmel Del Mar, said the event was really a showcase for what students get out of having PE at school.

“PE is different than just physical activity; it’s physical education,” Roth said. “It’s more than just skills and games, it’s learning sportsmanship, respect that doesn’t happen in recess or on the playground.”

In the Del Mar Union School District, PE is included in the Extended Studies Curriculum. When PE was put on the chopping block, school sites rallied to raise the funds necessary to keep the program.

All except Del Mar Hills, who opted not to include PE in their fundraising efforts, will have the program next year.

“The PE team we have right now is incredibly cohesive, we collaborate on a regular basis to put on really great programs,” Roth said. “We wish PE could be funded 100 percent of the time because it is just outstanding right now.”

Saturday’s event kicked off with words from Del Mar Heights parent Tammy Liley an Olympic bronze medalist. Liley won the bronze with the U.S. women’s volleyball team in 1992 and also competed in the 1996 and 1998 Olympic games.

Liley said she thought the Jr. Olympics was a great event and reminded the children how important it is to continue their love of play.

“Find something that you love to do, work hard and have fun,” Liley told the students.