Kearny kids learn track and field fundamentals

Alexander Pereyra is a 10-year-old fifth grader at Kearny’s Garfield School.

Pereyra watched the Olympics in 2016 and became interested in participating in track and field.

“I never did it before,” Pereyra said. “I wanted to try something new.”

So last year, Pereyra decided that he wanted to attend Kearny’s Speed and Agility Track and Field camp.

“I wanted to try stuff like the high jump and the long jump,” Pereyra said. “I wanted to get faster running. I ran before, but never on a track.”

Pereyra’s older sister Victoria, a 12-year-old seventh grader at Lincoln School, also was interested in learning after attending the camp last summer.

“I wanted to learn a few more things,” Victoria Pereyra said. “I never did the high jump before and now I love it. I never did the shot put before. I thought it was going to be lighter. But it was heavy.”

Cailey Torres is a 13-year-old eighth grader at Lincoln School. Torres also has a keen interest in running.

“I felt like I was always good at long distance running,” Torres said. “I play soccer, so that keeps me running all the time.”

But recently at the Speed and Agility Track and Field Camp, Torres got to learn a host of other events.

“I did the high jump and I threw the javelin,” Torres said. “I had to start from scratch there, learning the proper way to do it. It helped me a lot, learning the different events.”

Vincent Almeida is a 13-year-old eighth grader at John F. Walker Middle School in Nutley.

“I play soccer, but I wanted to come here to get stronger and faster,” Almeida said. “I might join track if soccer doesn’t work out.”

And the one thing Almeida learned?

“There are different ways to run,” Almeida said. “You have to run with your chest out and breathing properly. It makes me learn more.”

Almeida has a bit of athleticism in his heritage. His father, Vin, was the long-time girls’ soccer coach at Kearny High and is currently the school’s athletic director. So the younger Almeida better learn how to run with his dad closely watching.

“Since he came here to work this summer, I decided to come with him,” the younger Almeida said.

The architect of the Speed and Agility Track and Field camp is Kearny head track and field coach Al Perez.

“We wanted to do something to expose more kids to track and field,” Perez said. “We had a middle school program 3 or 4 years ago, but that was cut. So it’s great to have something like this. Some parents have asked if there was something for the kids before they got to high school. It’s great to see the interest.”

Perez said that he was encouraged after the first year of the camp in 2018.

“It’s something that I now plan to do every year,” Perez said. “Perhaps it will grow from year to year. I was inspired to do something, because I see the other teams in our school have a camp. I have to thank Vinny (Almeida), because he really helped me get it off the ground and gave me the framework.”

Perez said that the first three days of camp is spent on proper form and technique of running.

“We work on foot placement that helps with the hips and knees,” Perez said. “Once they get that down, they can run efficiently.”

Perez said that he definitely sees the fruits of his hard work in just three days.

“You can definitely see an improvement,” Perez said. “You can see the difference. But we try to make it fun. They learn the javelin, the high jump, the shot put. We want to expose them to all of the events. We try to do a little bit every day and the last day, we have an actual track meet. The kids really get into it.”

Obviously, the kids enjoyed themselves.

“I tried a lot of new and fun things here,” Alexander Pereyra said. “I tried it because I thought I might like it, but now, I want to do it more and more.”

His older sister agrees.

“It encourages me a lot to want to run,” Victoria Pereyra said. “The things we did were a lot of fun. We had relay races and that shows you teamwork.”

And as for Torres?
“It was the most fun I had all summer,” Torres said. “I got to run around and have fun. Not everything was strict and serious. I learned how to jump over a giant rope.”

Hey, there’s something to tell your best friends.

“Hopefully, they’ll learn about the sport and want to continue,” Perez said. “If they don’t continue with track, then I hope this was helpful to them in other sports. I’m sure we’ll see some of these kids down the road.”




Several local youngsters attended the Kearny Speed and Agility Track and Field camp at the Kearny High School field recently. Photo by Jim Hague


This young man was quite successful in learning the proper way to throw the shot put. Photo by Jim Hague




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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”