Plains Elementary Has Day Of Fun With JMU Track And Field | News


TIMBERVILLE — The town reminds Delethea Quarles of home.

So when the James Madison University director of track and /cross country and her team started volunteering at Timberville’s elementary school, , she wanted to continue giving back.

That community service turned into nearly 350 students filling the JMU Athletics Training Center on Thursday afternoon, spending the day racing, jumping hurdles and of course, having plenty of fun.

The connection between and JMU Track & really stemmed from senior Arianna Eberly. Eberly is a captain of the university’s track and team, and student taught at the elementary school.

“I just felt like a really meaningful relationship with the school,” Eberly said.

So meaningful, Eberly’s going to be teaching first grade at Plains starting in August.

As captain, Eberly wanted to get her team more involved with the school she loved, so they started by volunteering their time by helping teachers and donating books to students.

As Plains Elementary Principal Todd Johnson got to know Eberly better, he knew he wanted to hire her. He also got the opportunity to meet coach Quarles when Eberly invited her to the school.

Johnson said Quarles wanted to provide his students with a “glimpse into the bigger world around them,” a vision that he shares.

Quarles said the connection she felt to the school and Timberville after growing up in Covington, Va., encouraged her to do more.

“I came from a rural area, and opportunities oftentimes are not as great in the areas that we come from,” Quarles said. “I have been blessed to go to all 50 states and many, many foreign countries. I like to bring all those experiences with me and share them with people that might not have the opportunity to do it.”

With Quarles being selected as a coach for the women’s track and field Team USA for the 2024 Olympics, she wanted to bring USA to the students as well.

So on Thursday, members of JMU’s track and field team and some Broadway High School athletes gathered with Plains Elementary to participate in a RunJumpThrow event through USA Track & Field.

RunJumpThrow is a “hands-on learning program that gets kids excited about physical activity by introducing them to the basic running, jumping, and throwing skills through track & field.”

The JMU Athletics Training Center was split into different stations, with students rotating through different activities like hurdles, relay racing, rocket throwing and long jump. It was clear the students were having fun — their smiles were bright as they jumped over hurdles or cheered on their friends.

Sharrieffa Barksdale, the senior manager for alumni relations for RunJumpThrow, said bringing these events to students can show students that anything is possible.

Johnson said the best part of the day was seeing the smiles on his students’ faces.

“We believe in educating the whole child, so it’s not just about the academics,” Johnson said. It’s about making healthy lifestyle choices, being fit and active and [being more] knowledgeable about your own community.”

Eberly said having a school so close to a college, it was only logical to bring students out to JMU.

“Kids need role models and meeting a college athlete, that experience might stay with them forever,” Eberly said.

Fifth grader Paradise Haddad said it was a fun and creative day.

“I’m really excited for the relay because I think I’m gonna crush people,” Paradise said. “I had a lot of fun on the exercise [station] … and the other ones have been pretty much the same level of fun.”

Her strategy for the relay ? really fast, and “slay”— slang for doing really well at something.

While Paradise said there are many possibilities for her life, she loves coming to JMU’s campus because she wants to attend.

“Hopefully they just get a small glimpse of that just from being here today, having some fun,” Quarles said. “While it gives us an opportunity to serve our communities because we are blessed with a lot, we were those young people one day. And so we want to give back.”



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