Local track club gives kids structure

SOUTH BEND (WNDU) - The South Bend Cheetahs are all about speed.

“When it comes to track and field, it’s all about your time,” Cheetahs head coach Shawn Major-Winston.

“You always want to run your fastest no matter what,” South Bend Cheetah Brycen Avila.

For the Cheetahs Major-Winston, it’s vital to run your fastest in track in order to improve every day.

“It’s very important to be fast in track because it’s going to transition into other sports," Major-Winston said. "So when they get into open field in football, when they get into transition in basketball, they know how they are going to dominate their competition because they know how to run for an extended period of time.”

The South Bend Cheetahs speed took them all the way to the junior Olympics in Iowa. While none of the Cheetahs placed, they got better. And that’s all that matters.

“We had a lot of kids improving by one second, two seconds in the 200 meters, we had a kid improve by two feet in the long jump," Major-Winston said. "So as long as you improve. It shows you worked harder than you did before.”

But if the Cheetah’s don’t work hard, they are sent to the zoo.

“If you walk during warm up, that’s an automatic trip to the zoo," Major-Winston said. "When you are in the zoo, you are going to sit down and you are going to watch your team workout.”

While some of the Cheetah’s view the zoo as the end of the world, it’s only a way to help them.

“You have to gain your way back into the pack," Major-Winston said. "So in order to get your way back into the pack, you have to do a workout your team decided for you to do.”

In reality, Major-Winston is proud of the Cheetahs for their dedication at practice three days of the week.

“The fact that sometimes they are laying down after practice because they put so much of their heart into it," Major-Winston said. "These kids get tired. They get hot out here. They practice on 90 degree days, 95 degree days, nothing can stop these kids from practicing.”

And that dedication inspires Major-Winston to help out the Cheetahs no matter what. If the kids families are going through tough times financially, mentally or in any other aspect, he wants to help. He thinks giving kids structure at this age helped him out as a kid and he wants to return the favor.

“I had a parent who kinda put her all into it," Major-Winston said. "I want to see now if I fill that void in these kids lives, can they snatch some of these MVP titles that some of these kids really deserve.”

And the Cheetahs deserve a chance to make a difference in this world.

“We’re giving these kids an experience to say I can be somebody," Major-Winston said. "We’re just providing sports as a vehicle for these kids to escape their hard times.”