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USC track kicks off sports clinics for kids

USC long jumper Brittney James practically lived at MLK Park as a child, skipping her way through the summers on the Double Dutch team her mother coached and attending the park’s sports camps.

James relived her childhood Friday morning when she and a dozen other members of the Gamecocks’ track team gave stretching and running pointers to about 70 young campers from two of the city’s parks and recreation programs at a steamy Weems Baskin Track.

This is the second year USC and the city have partnered to offer the one-day sports clinics, which will introduce the children to football, equestrian, volleyball and several other sports over the next eight weeks.

“The kids get to learn about a lot of different things that they don’t get to do during the school year,” said James, whose Double Dutch participation took her to several states and college campuses.

The rest of the clinics will take place at USC’s Strom Thurmond Wellness Center, with the exception of the equestrian primer at the Gamecocks’ facility in Blythewood. Harold White, the retired USC athletics administrator who organizes the clinics, said the equestrian clinic was so popular last year that it has been scheduled twice this summer.

“I don’t know if y’all know what it means, but equestrian means y’all are going to learn to ride horses,” outgoing City Council member Anne Sinclair told the group from MLK and Greenview parks.

But the first clinic focused on track, highlighted by a relay race in which Cocky ran the anchor leg for one of the teams.

“I’ve been where these kids are and had a good time,” said James, the Dreher graduate who encouraged campers to listen to their parents.

Aaron Austin, White’s grandson who attends Brockman Elementary, said he learned a few helpful techniques for running — and otherwise.

“They were teaching me some stretches and how to lift my legs high,” Austin said. “And we need to be in an organized line.”

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.