NR track team gives back big
Published 1:37 pm Thursday, December 24, 2015
Nansemond River High School indoor track coach Justin Byron is looking for more out of his athletes than just excellence in track and field.
“As a coach, the track stuff is awesome, but I think it’s still small in comparison to their development of character,” he said.
He witnessed that development during the holiday season to a degree that left him stunned.
Email newsletter signup
“This year, I challenged the team to find some community service projects,” Byron said.
He wanted to do three, and the team has already done two. Ideas brought forth from parents of his athletes included helping at a food bank and adopting a family during the holidays.
The team dedicated 9 a.m. to noon on Monday to working at a food bank in Norfolk directly before a track and field practice session that ran from noon to 4 p.m.
The day prior, the Warriors put the finishing touches on their efforts to give their adopted family a special Christmas.
It was Eloise Foster, mother of Warriors junior Karah Foster, who suggested adopting a family in need and pooling resources to give the family a bevy of gifts for Christmas.
While she was looking, she had a friend who happened to learn of just such a family, so a Suffolk family with small children had fallen right in the Nansemond River team’s lap, Foster noted.
“When I told my daughter what we were going to do, she immediately wanted to jump in and help out,” Foster said.
Warriors senior Kiara Price said, “We helped wrap the gifts, and we donated gifts and we tried to find a way to make sure that all the kids got everything they wanted.”
Byron knew his athletes probably did not have much money themselves but said he also knew they were strongly encouraging their parents to buy presents, “as if it was for themselves.”
“Some of the kids even sacrificed their Christmas gifts to make sure that this family has an amazing Christmas,” he said. “No matter how long you’ve been working with a kid, that’s just shocking.”
And the gifts purchased were hardly bargain bin items. They included an Xbox, video games, sneakers, learning tablets and books.
The Nansemond River team got nearly everything on the family’s wish list and then started to get things that were not even on it.
“Parents were still giving money up until the last minute,” Eloise Foster said.
Other items purchased for the family included a microwave, gift cards, clothing and food.
Foster estimated that the team provided between 30 and 40 gifts for its adopted family.
“This was one of the things that I had no idea they would go this hard and go all out to do,” Byron said. “Track will take care of itself if you are doing the right thing off of the track, and I think this is one of those things.”
Kiara Price said it was a blessing that she was able to give to others.
“It just felt good that you could help others to get through some tough times,” she said.