There’s probably no better way to build anticipation and excitement then offering up the opportunity for hundreds of local kids to be the main focus in promoting a major sporting event coming to our community. Our friends at TrackTown USA chose the Oakway Center outdoor courtyard as the perfect site for the One Year Out Event to the 2014 IAAF Track and Field World Junior Championships scheduled for July 22 – 27. The gathering was a chance for organizers to create awareness for the upcoming event, while also engaging the community to be part of the evening’s festivities.
I arrived just a little prior to the start of the event and noticed the kids, who were going to play a major part of the evening event, all gathered in one area getting their last minute instructions. Each were given their very own event t-shirt and a small commemorative flag representing the countries participating in next year’s competition. It was, as you can imagine, quite the sight to see hundreds of youngsters ranging in ages from 4 – 14 all making sure their t-shirts weren’t on backward, shoes were tied and figuring out the proper way to wave their flag… priceless. All this while parents were of course snapping pictures and shouting out encouragement to their sons and daughters.
This international youth sporting event will mark the first time a IAAF World Athletics Series event will come to the US in more than 20 years, bringing the world’s best track and field athletes under the age of twenty from 212 countries all competing at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon. On this night at the Oakway Center it was the official kickoff to Eugene welcoming the world in 2014. Restaurants and stores that surround the courtyard were packed with customers, every available table and chair or cement step that make up the landscape of the courtyard was taken up by the hundreds of people all there to experience the excitement.
The crowd was treated to a quick introduction and welcome by Vin Lananna, President of TrackTown USA, and at just the right moment in the presentation was the well organized and somewhat choreographed parade of these 212 kids marching out from behind the building where minutes before they were learning their routine. In classic style the Olympic theme was played to accompany the kids as they were led out into the courtyard to the roar and applause of parents and spectators. Once the group was positioned at the center of the courtyard with flags raised and smiles on every face came the dramatic unveiling of the impressive and massive banner representing the official logo of the 2014 World Junior Championships.
Needless to say it was a great evening, and a big WAY TO GO to all those youngsters who did such an outstanding job in showing the world how we say hello, and welcome. It’s not hard to understand why we’re considered one of the friendliest cities in America, and don’t forget… we’re also TrackTown USA.
About the author: A way over the top sports enthusiast, Mike is the Sports Sales Manager at Eugene, Cascades and Coast Sports. Arriving in Eugene by way of UCLA, Mike manages to keep his Bruin identity even in Duck country. When those rare free moments in his schedule do occur, Mike enjoys running, swimming, and almost any kind of activity or competition that breaks a sweat.