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Grant Allows KIPP Academy to Send Girls' Track Team to USATF National Junior Olympics

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The $10,000 grant will pay the entire cost of airline flights, hotels, and on-the-ground transportation will be provided for six student-athletes and two chaperones.

The girls track and field team from KIPP Life Academy in Newark is in California the last week of July for the USATF National Junior Olympics, courtesy of a $10,000 grant from the New Jersey Children’s Foundation.

The third and fourth grade girls are coached by Rilwan Adeniran.

“Leading up to the nationals a couple of them were talking about, ‘So how do I get to California, how do I get to California,’” he said. “You have to, as a coach, tell them listen, it’s one step at a time, you got to get through these meets first and then you’re going to California, so they’re really excited to have this opportunity.

This is the team’s first year competing.

To get to the national meet, the team competed in the New Jersey regionals, where each team member placed in the top five in a race.

The school doesn’t have a track so students practiced in the school hallways and local parks.

“We started running laps around the hallways and then I got, what was it, a measuring stick or a measuring tape actually, and measured out the hallways to see how many meters actually is one lap, so it was a pretty humbling but great experience,” said Adeniran.

Galen Johnson, director of external affairs at the Foundation, said it was an easy decision to make this grant.

“When we look at most schools, they have their academic impacts, but most schools also have impacts outside of the class, and so (we will do) anything we can do to support those efforts,” he said.

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.