THE SOUTH LINCOLN TRACK CLUB STORY
In 1967 Jerry McGinn first organized the South Lincoln Track Club thanks to his two daughters, Deborah and Maureen, when he realized girls sports were really nonexistent in Lincoln. He always had a strong love for children. A born organizer and motivator, he formed a neighborhood team, dressed them in green and white; kids from South Lincoln, a neighborhood thing. For the lack of a better name, he labeled them the South Lincoln Track Club. Later on kids would come from all sections of Lincoln, and from around the state of Nebraska, but the name remained the same. Many labels were given to the team - The Green Machine, The Unbeatable Machine, Green Power - by the World Herald and the Lincoln Journal-Star.
Little did Jerry know the Green Machine would blossom into the finest age group track and field program in the country. Jerry remembers when he contacted two close friends about his dream to help kids, get them off the street, and show them the positive side of life. He called Arlan Stromberg and Glen Brazee and asked them to come over and discuss this dream. They agreed they wanted to help.
In 35 years this team would win 19 National Championships. The first one came in 1978 when the girls won the TFA-USA National Title. The girls repeated again in 1979 by again winning the TFA-USA Championship. Also in 1979, the boys of the South Lincoln Track Club weren't about to be outdone, they won their first title by winning the National TAC Age Group Championship. In 1980 the coaching staff of SLTC decided they would travel to Dayton, Ohio, and try and win both the boys and girls National TFA-USA championships. The rest is history. The boys won their second consecutive national title and the girls won their third consecutive championship, and of course, were named 1980 overall National Champions.
The winning ways continued from Des Moines to Dayton, to UCLA, to St. Louis, to Baton Rouge, to Memphis, to Miami. An age group track and field magazine called the club the "Greatest age group club ever assembled in American history".
But winning was only a small part of what the South Lincoln Track Club really stood for. In the 1970's over 1,000 young boys and girls came out for track, to learn about fitness and good health. Coach Don Knox always stated "We are proud of what we have, we don't have try outs, all were treated fairly, never once was a youngster cut from the team because he or she couldn't run fast, jump a great distance, or throw far." They had fun together winning or losing.
The coaches were selected by McGinn. "They had to be special", he often said, "they must love children and get along with each other. I want one big happy family", and that's just what he got.
Yes, the Green Machine has come a long way since 1967, with the help of many people. And the young boys and girls who wanted to make this dream come true have succeeded. It's no longer a dream, but a reality.
Most important are the past and present coaches and assistants and all who have contributed so much of their time, dedication, and unselfishness to the understanding and love of children. Merle Reiling gave us our theme in the 1960's and it remains the same today: "You never stand so tall as when you stoop to help a child".
The pride continues today in the eyes of Little Green, which now consists of boys and girls 8 years old and under. They don't travel all over the United States winning national titles, but they perform in a noncompetitive arena where everyone wins. There are no losses or tears, just fun and laughter. The glory days are over, but what endures today is really what McGinn had in mind more than 40 years ago - teaching young children about good health and fitness, and to have fun in a noncompetitive program. Nothing does his heart prouder than the sound of a child having fun.
The next 40 years have begun, won't it be fun!