Pierce ’18 Attends Gateway to Gold Paralympic Track Clinic

Pierce ’18 Attends Gateway to Gold Paralympic Track Clinic

May 19, 2017 – Seattle Academy junior track athlete, Conner Pierce, took part in a Paralympic one-day track clinic last month in Spokane, WA. The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event involving athletes with a range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference as well as a number of other disabilities.

The event was the Gateway to Gold Paralympic Track and Field Clinic, a clinic that was intended to bring together Parasport track athletes from around the country thought to have potential in Paralympic sports. The clinic contained both classroom and on-the-track sessions.

“I got to meet all of the other athletes, and they were all very nice, friendly, and supportive,” said Conner. There were about fifty athletes, boys and girls, at the clinic mostly from Washington and after the initial “meet and greet,” the athletes met with a sports psychologist, a professor from the University of Denver.

“She spoke on “mental reframing”, said Conner, “which is like taking an aspect of your performance that maybe you’re lacking in confidence and saying ‘what can I do to feel more in control, or what can I do to improve this thing I’m struggling with.’ Then we had a session about goal-setting, figuring out what reasonable goals look like, how to make them specific, and how to create a timeline to help us get there. We talked about what is called mental contrasting barriers, so you look at what it would be like with no obstacles and then what you’ll have to do to get around certain barriers that might lie in your path.”

After meeting with the sports psychologist, the athletes went outside and hit the track for training sessions. “Many of the athletes were wheelchair bound, but there were a few, who like me, were ambulatory, and I got to train with them,” said Connor. “It was a lot of fun, and the track coach gave a lot of specific information on how we can work around our limitations.” The instructors also evaluated each athlete’s form, did some core workouts and stretching exercises.

Conner, who was named Emerald City League track Rookie-of-the-Year this season, is running the 100m, 200m, and 400m.  The ambulatory division is new to track this season, and Conner is running this weekend hoping to qualify for the state meet next week.

“I really felt good about doing this,” said Conner. “I’ve always tried to see the best in things like this, a real challenge. I like how the clinic coaches are so committed to helping athletes of all ability levels accomplish their goals and get involved in the Paralympic movement.”

We wish Conner all the best both on and off the track!

Above: Conner in the 200m at the Emerald City League Championship meet.