Not every youngster is enamored with team sports like soccer, basketball and baseball. A solo sport like running fits some kids like a perfect pair of sneakers.
That’s one of the reasons Jenni Tellefsen founded the Mighty Youth Runners Club at Springer School in Mountain View at the start of the school year.
“I wanted to show (the kids) that running can be a personal sport where you can compete with yourself,” said Tellefsen, whose two sons attend Springer. “You can work on improving your distance or speed and gain confidence and be proud of your own personal accomplishments.”
Those are the things that drew Tellefsen to running years ago and now she shares her passion for the sport by coaching kids at Springer two afternoons a week. She said the idea to form the club came from Girls on the Run, an afterschool program designed for girls who love to run that she coached with for two years.
“I wanted to start a club that was all-inclusive (and) expose kids to how fun running can be,” said Tellefsen, who coaches the club members with fellow Springer parents Veronica Gobry and Renee Johnson.
With a mission to promote running and a healthy lifestyle for youth, Tellefsen added that the club’s goal is to inspire kids to become more active and improve their physical and mental well-being.
And she hopes the participants keep running well after they’ve graduated from Springer.
“Running is a lifelong sport – you don’t need a gym, a team or a court to play on,” Tellefsen said.
Open to Springer students in grades 4-6, the club offers a 10-week course that meets 3:30-4:15 p.m. twice weekly.
Participants spend the first 15 minutes learning a variety of lessons – from stretching and pacing to proper protocol for running on the road. The rest of the time is primarily spent running laps and relay races.
Students in the club get a chance to meet high school cross-country runners who come out twice during the 10-week session to encourage and motivate them. Early in the first session, Los Altos High School runners Ryan Adibi and Jacob Folkman warmed up and ran with the kids.
At the end of the 10 weeks, the students are encouraged to enter a local 5K race like this month’s Santa Run Silicon Valley.
The club is offered only at Springer for now, but Tellefsen hopes to expand the program to other elementary schools in the Los Altos area by next fall. The second 10-week session is scheduled to begin in January.