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Games Of Texas Attract Thousands Of Athletes To Waco

July 28, 2011

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The sun is at its highest point on a Thursday afternoon, and eleven year-old Masten Green is doing his best to ignore the 103 degree heat and listen to his coach has he prepares to make yet another run around the track at Baylor University. Masten is preparing for the Games of Texas under the watchful eye of Baylor senior Whitney Prevost, whose spot on the track and field team for the Bears is one Masten might like to fill someday. But that's in the distant future. The Games of Texas are here and now, kicking off tomorrow at locations around Waco. What is this tournament that would make an eleven year trade in playing video games for training in the heat, and attract approximately 6,000 athletes plus their families?

That's Jeff Goodman of Waco Parks and Recreation. Waco has hosted these games a record seven times in the 26 year history of the event, staged by the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation, or TAAF. There are core events that each host city must have, like track and swimming. Host cities can pick out sports significant to their region. Corpus Christi, for instance, has sailing. Waco offers disc golf. But it's the marquee sports in the Olympic games that are the marquee sports in the Games of Texas as well, and attract those numbers of visitors in the thousands.

This year, Goodman and his colleagues at Waco Parks and Rec aren't expecting quite as many athletes, but even a few hundred less than last year's total means a significant financial impact to the community, in addition to the chance to show off Waco's athletic and outdoor venues.

It's an opportunity for Waco to show off its ability to host a large-scale statewide event, and a chance for visitors to see places like Cameron Park or the Brazos River that might beckon them to make a return trip. But none of that is of concern to many of the athletes, young and old alike, training for the event. Athletes like Masten Green, whose summer regimen is dominated by preparing to run against the best in Texas this weekend.

Tomorrow, we'll learn more about Masten, a young man who may just be the fastest eleven year old in the state. He'll be defending the three gold-medals he won in last year's Games this weekend. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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