All-Americans relay talent, passion to keep youth ‘on track’

Shanice Maxwell | 2/7/2013, 12:32 p.m.

“It’s fun to come to this because it’s all for a purpose. It’s to do the track meets and I enjoy the friends I’ve made,” said Declin Kirwin, 11, of Jamaica Plain.

Being at the Melnea Cass Center is fulfilling for the youth in more ways than one. While making friends, they’re also growing stronger and faster all while learning more about what they can accomplish when they give something their all.

Boston United Track and Cross Country Club provides them tangible results and shows them the power they possess when they push themselves mentally and physically.

For parents like Monique Sampson, 29, of Dorchester, it’s also meaningful for boys in the club, including her 6 year-old son Jamai, to have coaches who look like them.

“I love that most of the coaches are all guys, and I think that’s very important for the young men and the young women to see men in our community, you know, black men, doing something positive,” Sampson said.

The club has its rewards not only for the youngsters but for the coaches as well.

For Dilday, it’s seeing the kids’ times improve from week to week and watching them enjoy the drills that have been designed to foster fun and time for socializing with newfound friends.

“I see the satisfaction when they finish a tough workout,” Dilday said. “They’re high-fiving and they’re happy. They understand the sense of accomplishment.”

“We saw a need for it and we said ‘let’s just do it,’” said supporter and board member Barbara Hamilton of Boston’s Centers for Youth and Families.

Slowly but surely, Ahmed, Dilday, and the other muscles and minds behind the Boston United Track and Cross Country Club can see track becoming more and more cherished.


“Personally I feel really good when I see these kids have a passion for this sport,” Ahmed said. “I‘ve had much success in this sport, so even if we get one kid to have that much success in this thing, it’s a big achievement.”

Boston United Track and Cross Country Club welcomes new members each Saturday from 12-2 p.m. at the Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex.