Showing posts with label track and field. Show all posts
Showing posts with label track and field. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2024

Windham athlete finishes seventh nationally in Triple Jump competition

By Kaysa Jalbert

Many are familiar with the term “adulting” to describe the mundane responsibilities that make up the daily life of an adult, but there’s not a term to describe the lives of teenagers whose days are packed with classes, homework, practices, and work, while maintaining a social life and preparing for their futures full of adulting. Some call this overachieving, but in the eyes of most teens today, it’s simply what it means to be a teen.

Tayla Pelletier of Windham High School
finished seventh in the nation in the triple
jump at the Adidas Nationals at North
Carolina Agricultural and Technical State
University in Greensboro, N.C. in June
after winning the Maine state
championship and the New England 
championship this spring. She will be
a senior at WHS this fall.
Tayla Pelletier is one of these busy teens, as a soon-to-be senior at Windham High School, an honors student, working two part-time jobs and on top of it all, a competitor in the National Track and Field Championships. To her, all of this is what it means to be trying your best.

Earlier this spring, Pelletier won the Triple Jump event at the Maine State Championships at Thornton Academy on Saturday June 1 and went on to win the New England Championships at the University of New Hampshire on Saturday June 8 in the triple jump.

She then traveled out of state to compete in the Adidas Nationals at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina where she competed in the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and the triple jump events.

“Competing in sports has definitely shown how hard I can be on myself,” Pelletier said. “I set very high expectations and always strive to do my best.”

Leading up to competing for a title, Pelletier said she focuses her thoughts on trying her best and staying patient in the air and not getting upset with herself over a bad jump, but to instead focus on the next one.

When she’s not in school, or practicing her triple jump, she can be found at one of her two part-time jobs. Somedays she is serving scoops at the Ice Cream Dugout in Windham, and on other days she works at Beacon Pizza in Raymond.

Pelletier started working at the age of 15 during the summer of her sophomore year. She has held her job at the Ice Cream Dugout for three years and started working at two different jobs last year.

“I wanted to get my first job because I liked the idea of having my own money and being able to get the things I wanted by myself without parents help,” she said. “I wanted to be more independent and to rely less on my parents for everything especially with having five siblings.”

At this point, Pelletier says that she’s undecided in what she wants to do as a future career, but she is certain she wants to continue participating in track into college while studying.

Pelletier started competing in the triple jump during the spring season of her freshman year.

“What interests me most about track is the environment. The team supports one another, and even those you compete against are super friendly,” said Pelletier. “What I like most about being an athlete is the goals I am able to set for myself, and the team and coaches who push me to and support me with achieving these goals.”

Pelletier says that balancing two jobs, school and sports can be a lot at times, especially while taking anatomy and physiology, and honors classes, and there is a lot of work that comes with it.

“My weeks are busy, and nights can be long but it’s all worth it in the end,” she said. “Having a busy schedule can be exhausting, but you just have to find a way to manage it all. And when you get days off then you need to enjoy them and use them as a day off and one to relax.”

Ever since she got into track Tayla has started watching past Olympic competitions or world track and field meets. Through this, she said she gathers a sense of how she can improve on her form and gain inspiration to keep working and never stop giving it her all.

“I enjoy competing because it allows me to not only prove myself but it’s something I can control,” said Pelletier. “I enjoy the competition and have found a lot of joy in this sport and am always looking forward to meet days, especially when it comes to the competition. This fuels my energy and as long as I have the right mindset, I know I can perform.”

She says competing at the Adidas Nationals was a great experience, and she was happy with her times in both the 100-meter hurdle and 400-meter hurdle events, considering it was her first time running the 400-meter hurdles. As for her triple jump, she started the event seeded ninth and came out of finals placed seventh overall. Pelletier attended the Adidas Nationals in North Carolina accompanied by her mom and grandmother.

At home, Pelletier’s hard work makes her a role model for her two sisters and three brothers, all younger than she is.

“My siblings are extremely supportive and are always excited to know how I do,” she said. <

Friday, February 24, 2023

Special Olympic athletes prepare for spring competition

By Ed Pierce

Windham students are training and getting ready to make a competitive run in the State Special Olympic Games to be held at the University of Maine at Orono in June.

Windham's Special Olympics team competed in the Maine
Special Olympics Summer Games last June at the
University of Maine at Orono and is preparing for
another spring track season. Back, from left, are AJ Mains,
Coach Wyatt LeBlanc, Austin Rice, Coach Amanda Pope,
Coach Anne Blake, Ryleigh Geary, Coach Margaret Dionne,
and Cameron Malone. Front, from left, are Dani Iaconeta, 
and Mary Jean. SUBMITTED PHOTO    
To qualify to compete in Orono, Windham Special Olympians will compete in the Cumberland County Spring Games at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish in May. The Maine Special Olympics organization provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics is a global organization that serves athletes with intellectual disabilities working with hundreds of thousands of volunteers and coaches each year. Since the establishment of Special Olympics in 1968, the number of people with and without intellectual disabilities who are involved with the organization has been growing, but the unmet need to reach more people with intellectual disabilities is ongoing.

The activities provide the athletes with continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and to participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship.

Last spring, a team from Windham turned in an exceptional performance during the Maine Special Olympics competition in Orono and brought home a gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay race. Windham athletes also competed in the running long jump, the softball throw and several running events during the competition, which drew participating Special Olympics athletes from throughout Maine.

Anne Blake, a physical therapist from RSU 14 coaches Windham’s Special Olympics team, which is made up of student athletes from Windham High School and Windham Middle School.

Blake said because Special Olympics is a national organization, they are very stringent and need to ensure that the athletes have intellectual and other disabilities and meet the qualifying criteria to be able to compete.

Along with Special Olympians from the high school and middle school, Windham also fields a team for students in elementary school but could only take middle school and high school students to the State Special Olympics last year.

Blake said that Windham has fielded Special Olympics teams for the past decade, but because of COVID-19 concerns and restrictions, the Maine Special Olympics competition was canceled in 2020 and 2021.

Besides Special Olympics teams, Windham also fields Unified sports squads at the high school level. Unified sports teams promote social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences by including students with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team.

Studies have shown that Unified teams dramatically increase inclusion in the community, using sports to help break down barriers that have historically kept people apart. Teams are made up of people of similar age and ability, which makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all.

Across the state, more than 5,000 students participate in Special Olympic activities throughout the year at more than 75 different events, culminating at the State Summer Games in Orono.

In Windham’s Special Olympics track-and-field-based training program, participants can develop total fitness to compete in any sport. The program gives student athletes a chance to learn through skill development and competitive settings, and to be involved in large social groups.

Track events range from walks and sprints to relay competitions and wheelchair events. Field events include running and standing long jump contests, shot put, and softball throws.

Blake said that community support for Special Olympics and Unified sports programs is greatly appreciated. The program is always looking for volunteers from throughout the community willing to give up their time to help and cheer on the student athletes and serve as coaches and sports officials. All Special Olympic volunteers must be age 14 or older.

Financial donations are also welcomed and Maine Special Olympics is a 501C(3) nonprofit. Donations to support Special Olympics may be made online at or by mailing a check to Special Olympics Maine, 525 Maine St. Unit D, South Portland, ME 04106.

To become a Special Olympics volunteer in Windham, send an email to Blake at <