It’s hard to believe, watching Clara Smith sprint out of a starting block set up in front of her home north and east of Wellington, that she was once a pudgy fourth-grader with serious body image issues and a penchant for ice cream and macaroni and cheese. Today she’s an eighth-grader at Wellington Middle School looking forward to the track season next spring.
“I’m going to be on that podium at districts,” Smith promises. She’s already had considerable success in the 100- and 200-meter sprints as a seventh-grader, participating in districts as the top female runner in her school. She placed ninth in the 200 and fourteenth in the 100-meter races last year.
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She credits much of her success to her coach and trainer Ken Minifield, founder and director of All Sport Acceleration (ASA) Fitness based in Wellington. “Our intensive training programs are geared toward maximizing speed, improving nutrition and developing power,” he said. His goal is to provide athletes with what it takes to get to the next level of achievement in their sport. Minifeld says that today speed is the most important factor in achieving success in all sports.
An all-around athlete himself, Minifield is a nationally recognized speed and conditioning expert with credentials that include a two-time All American in track and football at Hagerstown Junior College in Maryland and qualifying in the 100-meter dash in the 1984 Olympics. He has been in the training business for 30 years.
“I know talent when I see it,” Minifield said. “Clara is going to be one of the top sprinters in Northern Colorado.” The two work well together during training sessions five times a week. “We butt heads occasionally, but I think of her as my ‘white daughter,’ ” says Minifield, an African American. “Sometimes I am a little hard on her.”
Minifeld says Clara is determined, even driven. She’s willing to work hard at whatever she does. At Wellington Middle School, she is on the honor roll, a member of student council, and part of the Web leadership class that mentors sixth-graders during their first months at the school. She wants to be an environmental lawyer and has already made plans to visit Kenyon College in Ohio. She plans to run track in college.
Her coach has become part of the Smith family. He trains Clara’s twin brother, Owen, a lacrosse player, and also the Smith parents, Rachel and Carey. Rachel is a four-time All-American in the 200-meter sprint, and Carey coaches the Fort Collins Unified Vipers lacrosse team.
Minifield started his business when he became frustrated with what he saw as poor training for athletes. “Some had been taught bad technical form and they needed help with speed and conditioning.”
ASA Fitness initiated its performance and track clubs in September, open to all ages. The track club trains on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Performance training is on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. For more information see www.facebook.com/ASAElite. Minifield can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org