Number of Participants: 120
Hours Donated: 180
Value of Time Served: $182,520
Event Type: Health & Safety
Sport: Boys Outdoor Track & Field
School: Shenendehowa High School
Date: March 4, 2019
Shenendehowa High School East
New York 146, Clifton Park
“The program in the Shenendehowa school district is called “Coaching Boys Into Men.”
When social studies teacher and indoor/outdoor track coach Jason Burlingame pitched an idea to his five senior student-athletes at the outset of the indoor track season, his team ran with the idea.
As the Plainsmen, fresh off their fourth straight Division I sectional title, prepare to send nine athletes to the state championship meet at 9.m. Saturday at Ocean Breeze Track and Field Facility, each step the Shen track and field athletes take will have more significance than any warmup or competition.
Around the time Burlingame was preparing for the season, University of Utah track runner Lauren McCluskey was murdered on campus by her boyfriend and given the domestic violence circumstances, Burlingame and his team decided to dedicate their season to McCluskey in a program called “Meters4McCluskey.”
“We do a character education program, which is a healthy relationships program that teaches how to be responsible and respectful,” Burlingame said. “There is a lot of messaging in there about domestic violence prevention. I challenge the seniors every year to expand their mission. The boys and I decided to reach out to her family and her coach out there in Utah and see if we can dedicate our season to her.”
Though they have not met, Burlingame said the Utah coaches and the McCluskey family warmly received the idea.
“Her coaches and Lauren’s family loved the idea so we started tracking meters and posting weekly updates on social media to connect people with resources and keep them involved in the conversation on domestic and dating violence,” Burlingame said. “It is our weekly way of honoring Lauren. Every kid on their team tracks their running for warmups, and workouts, and races for the week and they pool all those together and we dedicate that to Lauren and her family.”
The team posts weekly updates on social media, under the hashtag Meters4McCluskey with each step bringing a sense of fulfillment, especially for the five seniors — Alex Hislop, Greg Langone, Colin Tower, Jaron Meyer, and Kyle Gregor.
“Coach Burlingame put two and two together that we could integrate the Meters4McCluskey cause into what we were doing with Coaching Boys Into Men and I think it is a great fit,” Langone said. “It’s been really nice getting that added meaning for our teammates but the reaction that we’ve seen via social media from interacting with her family and community from part of the country that we’ve never met and having that connection … We’re just here in Clifton Park talking about that and making her feel remembered and carrying on that torch.”
Burlingame said the team logs between 700,000 and two million meters a week and has run 30.7 million meters this season.
“Every day at the beginning of the day, Coach (Lance) Jordan will give us the workout for the day and Greg and I add it up, say four-by-a-mile, and factor in a warmup and cool down and multiply by the number of guys on the team,” Hislop said. “We have 30 to 40 distance runners and about the same number of sprinters. Then you add 10 to 15 jumpers and throwers. It is even bigger in outdoor (track).”
The team is not soliciting donations to the program but is focusing more on the significance of raising awareness on domestic violence, one step at a time.”
Sean Martin, a local freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to the Times Union