The Words of the Slevin Family
Striders Executive Director Glenda Moody honors the Olympic coaches. To her right is Mr. Neil Salonen, a trustee of the Striders. To her left is Coach Sam Bell, winner of this year's Jesse Owens Award.
There are those policy experts who maintain that the world in no way lacks resources. Ease tensions and reduce barriers, they say, then there will be plenty for everyone. The problem is how to match existing resources to people in need.
Striders International is an example in microcosm of the sort of problem- solving which would vindicate such utopian thinkers. This program creates bridges. The Striders connects motivated high school athletes who need scholarships with universities in search of student-athletes. Twice yearly, Striders International sends a booklet containing information on every high school senior in its program to over 1,300 colleges.
There are other bridges: Track-and- field involves more events than any one coach can teach proficiently, yet high school and small college coaches face just such a demand. The Striders Track and Field Clinic, held annually, makes available the expertise of coaches who are renowned as the nation's best teachers. "Here the coaches have an opportunity to exchange ideas." explained Joshua Coker, secretary-treasurer of the Striders, "and they can compare themselves with their peers so they can improve themselves and pass on their insights to their athletes:'
In this year's Second Annual International Track and Field Clinic, held June 12-14 and hosted by Georgetown University in Washington DC, over 100 coaches came from the eastern half of the United States as well as from Greece, the Philippines, Haiti, and Zambia. They were instructed by 14 clinicians who came from all over the country.
Even in a sport known for its cultural and racial diversity, the Striders program has always stood out for being thoroughly interracial, and for its female -- and white -- coach, Glenda Moody. Striders International is an offshoot of the original DC Striders, which was one of the first social programs the Unification Church helped to fund. It has continued to receive significant support from the International Cultural Foundation (ICF) and has long been known to be something special, something apart. Hubert Gates, track coach at Spingarn High School in Washington DC, explained, "Throughout the years, the Striders have given young blacks dignity -- dignity that shows when they walk down a street with their heads held high, knowing they are something to someone:'
Since its inception as the DC Striders in 1967, over 3,000 young men and women, many from economically deprived areas, have entered college on scholarships that the Striders helped obtain. This represents almost $30 million in direct services to these youth, their families, and their future. Eighty-five percent of these scholar- ship recipients successfully completed their college education.
Through the years, 23 members of the Striders have competed on United States Olympic teams. In the 1984 Olympics, the Striders had two Olympic gold medal winners. Most recently, in July 1987, a member of the Striders won a gold medal in the national junior track competition in Cuba. This is the first time an American track-and-field team has competed in Cuba since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959.
The Striders will be represented on the U.S. national team for the Pan American Games in August 1987 by Lee McRae, who will be competing in the 100-meter dash and the 400- meter relay, and by head coach Tom Tellez and assistant coach Bob Teel, who are both members of the Striders Advisory Board.
The Striders has a very active Advisory Board of coaches who teach in both college and high school. Nearly all of the 13 coaches of the t °liege division have been coaches of the U.S. Olympic track-and-field team.
Because Striders International is non-political, interracial, intercultural, and international in its program and philosophical approach to athletics, official representatives of several nations have asked the Striders to serve as an intermediary between them and various United States athletic organizations. The Striders have facilitated such things as arranging for the pre-eminent coach of one Asian nation to teach at a U.S. university for a year and arranging for U.S. coaches to travel to other nations for the purpose of instructing their track-and-field coaches.
How did Striders International come into being? In 1967, a 22-year-old former collegiate track-and-field athlete encountered a couple of kids running down a back street in Washington DC. When she saw one of them later at a track meet, she told him his form was terrible. He retorted that if she thought she knew so much, why not help him train for the upcoming DC Recreation Games.
Thus a track club was born. Within a year, word of Glenda Moody's efforts had grown. Something about the high school athletes she was training (after school and on weekends, with no money and without compensation) began attracting the attention of college coaches. It was not their performances alone, but the motivation and zeal of these kids that was remarkable. Glenda began spending countless hours on the telephone with college and high school coaches, placing the Striders' kids in colleges -- with scholarships -- where they could continue to mature.
The Striders program harnesses the positive energy of athletic competition into a determination to succeed with other goals in life. Sometimes young people who come to the Striders have encountered serious obstacles in their lives. A young person conditioned to underachieve may have lost hope of gaining a college education. In the Striders program, youth develop a new self-confidence by setting training goals, achieving them, and even surpassing them.
The person who learns to say, "I can do it! I'm a winner!" in athletic competition is also learning how to accomplish other goals. When young people compete on the athletic field as members of The Striders International Track Club, they become part of a peer group that values academic discipline as well. It is then a short step to transfer motivation for athletic excellence into a desire for academic success.
For more information, please contact:
P. O. Box 33832
Washington, D. C. 20033
Striders International was incorporated in Washington, D. C. in 1983. It has no affiliation with the Unification Church, though many church members have volunteered to help in their various programs.
During the clink, the participants received detailed instruction on track-and-field techniques from some of the nation's best coaches.
The triumphant athlete symbolizes the quest in all of us to achieve personal wholeness and harmony" said Farley Jones, former president of Striders' International, at last years' Track and Field Clinic. "Each of us is meant in some way to be a meaningful part of a larger group, to work with others in achieving worthy goals, and in this context to display our individual gifts. Through sports we find both release from individual isolation and communion with our fellow man."
It is this communion with our fellow man, this sense of team spirit and the desire to reach toward ever-higher goals, that has motivated the founder of Striders International, Ms. Glenda Moody.
Glenda's outstanding achievement is what she herself calls her "kids:' and the faith in themselves, in other people, and in God that she has helped them develop. Through her own deep-rooted sense of values, she has taught these young people respect, dedication, trust, determination, self-discipline, friendship, understanding, foresight, and love. Such commitment makes Glenda an outstanding role model for young people. She has fought for and dedicated her life to the education of minority youth.
Why have Striders kids done so well, and what are some specifics about Glenda's way of working with them?
First, praying before track meets is a usual standard, with each praying together in his or her own way. Most of them believe that religion has the power to affect their performances and help them go beyond their own limitations. Sometimes people laugh at them for praying, but Striders kids are winners. The presence of God is clearly with them.
Unity and support among the team members are fostered. Athletes in the same events share rooms in order to encourage, serve, and be responsible for each other. It's not just his or her event; a sense of team responsibility and support is nurtured.
Glenda helps each athlete develop a vision for fulfilling his or her potential, not only for track-and-field events, but also for more long-term educational goals. Once they have that vision, Glenda can really push and get tough with them and they don't mind it. They know she sees something more in them than they see and that she has the capability to get them there.
Glenda can love these kids even more than they love themselves. Unconditional love takes discipline, and her goal is to be a prime example of the Principle -- valuing, loving, and serving others no matter what it takes.
She gets into their culture. Stepping into their shoes may mean giving someone a swift kick in the pants, for example, if she sees a kid looking at a beautiful woman and not keeping his mind on the business at hand. Sometimes Glenda feels other coaches may be thinking, "This white lady might not be alive come tomorrow, the way she's talking to that black kid." That's because they don't really understand the bond of heart underlying the discipline.
Glenda is always available to answer calls from her kids whenever there is a problem about anything. She tries to instill in the coaches who work with her that same spirit of really caring.
Glenda has successfully used her communicative skills to strongly bring across the message that "individuals are created not only for themselves, but primarily for others:' and to bring God's love and vision into the lives of young people. Both Glenda and the kids face life with God at their sides, and the world is a better place, a healthier place, because of them.
On June 12, the first evening of this years' Striders International Track and Field Clinic, a gala reception and banquet were held at the Key Bridge Marriot Hotel, across the river from Georgetown University. Over 240 national and international coaches, athletic leaders, Olympic gold medalists, international diplomats, U.S. statesmen, District of Columbia officials, congressmen, and friends of Striders International came together to honor the Olympic coaches. Mr. Neil Salonen, a member of the Striders Board of Directors, was master of ceremonies for the impressive gathering.
Monsignor William O'Donnell of Bethesda, Maryland, offered the invocation. A Washington DC councilman then presented Striders Executive Director Glenda Moody with a proclamation/resolution on behalf of the DC City Council, and expressed deep appreciation and gratitude for the "services...and...pride that you've brought to our city."
The keynote speaker, a senator from Indiana who is a middle-distance runner himself, gave the keynote speech of the evening, praising the Striders for their great "self-discipline and dedication to excellence'
The senator then presented the Jesse Owens Award, given every year to a person who is deemed to have contributed the most to athletics. Jesse Owens, an outstanding Olympic gold-medalist in the 1930s, was the honorary chairman of the Striders for nine years before his death in 1980. The senator quoted from Jesse Owens' words:
"I have been approached by many organizations, but I have lent my name to only a very few. I am especially impressed with the Striders' commitment to education, which is something that will be available throughout these youngsters' lives. The Striders program is unique in its purpose and its results:"
The senator then presented the award to Coach Sam Bell, who has been the head track-and-field coach of the University of Indiana for 18 years and is currently head of the Advisory Board of the Striders.
Farley Jones read a brief welcome on behalf of Rev. Kwak, chairman of ICF, and thanked the International Cultural Foundation for the major grant that had made the conference possible. The evening concluded with a presentation of roses to Glenda, who tearfully received everyone's gratitude for her many years of hard work by saying, "You all bring some- thing unique and beautiful from each of your cultures."