DYNASTY! EBR takes state title again
BY KAREN MARTIN
Special Sections editor
The LSU Tigers, going after their seventh College World Series title, have nothing on the East Baton Rouge Schools Fitness Team.
This spring, the EBR team of elementary school-age youngsters won the state Fitness Championship for the fourth consecutive year.
Pretty impressive. There’s more.
EBR teams have won the state title for eight of the last nine years.
Fantastic. But wait…
In the 19 years of the state-wide competition, EBR teams have taken the title 10 times.
The six students on this year’s team are Shania Anthony from Cedarcrest-Southmoor Elementary; Jaden Jackson and Dennis Sheppard, both of LaSalle Elementary; Liaya Palmer and Fredrick Hitchens, both of Glen Oaks Park Elementary; and Caitlin Jacobs of Shenandoah Elementary.
Coaching them are Ken Jenkins, EBR schools director of student activities; Ron Robertson of Glen Oaks; Marc Luckett of LaSalle; Courtney Comeaux of Shenandoah and Carol Revel of Westdale Heights Academic Magnet School.
Anthony, the top finisher among the girls, won the Miss Fitness title, while Jackson was named Mr. Fitness.
To make the EBR team, these six students first took on their peers from 38 other schools, public and private, in the parish. Then they went up against teams from 18 other parishes in the Louisiana Elementary Schools Fitness Championships at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track and Field Stadium.
The 9-to-11 year olds showed their skills in seven events — the 50-yard dash, pullups, sit-and-reach flexibility, crunches, standing long jump, shuttle run and the 600-yard run.
“We went there to compete,” says coach Jenkins, who helped start the parish-wide meet 29 years ago and, 10 years later, the state competition. “Rudy Macklin, who is executive director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, and I started it,” says Jenkins, who clutters his office with photos of past teams.
Jenkins says the students practiced eight times between the parish and state meets. And, while they are coached to get a better grip for pullups or to cut two-tenths of a second from their shuttle run, Jenkins says bringing together kids from across the parish has more benefits.
“They get to meet and know each other,” he says. “They find out about each other … they become friends.”
He says their parents are also heavily involved, making sure the youngsters get to practice and cheering them on at the meets.
Jenkins says both the boys and girls on the EBR teams have improved in performance over the years. But adds there’s probably a bigger gap between kids who are fit and those who aren’t.
“Now video games keep a lot of kids inside and on their computers,” says Jenkins. “Some of those who come to the local meets can’t do one pullup.”
However, those who make the team are all A-B students, and he can’t help but feel there’s a correlation between fitness and grades.
But for Miss Fitness Shania Anthony, running and jumping are just fun.
“I don’t have to practice a lot,” she says. “I was just born that way.”