Close to 1,000 Athletes Attend Regional
The Supersonics Host the AAU Regional at Memorial Stadium.
Thousands flocked to Memorial Stadium this holiday weekend for the annual AAU qualifiers for the Jr. Olympic games.
The regional event—hosted by New Brunswick’s AAU squad, the Supersonics—drew 833 athletes making up 54 different teams from eight states.
Supersonics director Charlene Cumberbatch got involved with the team in 1989, just three years into its existence. She has seen the event grow exponentially over the past couple decades.
“When we first did it we may have had 20 athletes for the regionals,” she said.
The increase in athletes has led to some tweaking. The Assistant Director of Athletics for the New Jersey Chapter of AAU and the director of the regional, Ron McBride, had to add a fourth day after having three days of events in years past.
There’s also the diverse age groups that range of 5 to 18 year olds, which makes for a unique event.
“A track meet like this is 18 track meets going on at one time because the age groups and the sex,” McBride said.
But hosting such an event is something Cumberbatch and her club has grown accustomed to. The Supersonics have hosted the event about a dozen times, the last of which was three summers ago.
“We’ve been doing it the longest and we’re more equipped to do it,” Cumberbatch said. “We’ve got a large parent base. We’ve got a lot of track people involved in our organization.”
Despite the large turnout by the athletes, it was smaller than groups that have participated in recent years. But given the cost for parents to have their kids participate in such an event, it’s not fiscally possible for everyone anymore.
“We’ve been as high as 1,200, but with the tight economy, some teams lost their funding, some parents lost their jobs, so it hits you that way,” McBride said. “So we’re just thankful this many people still can.”
So is the city of New Brunswick.
The cost of the event is minimal. Aside from the officials and high school students working, everyone else is a volunteer, which is about 85% of the staff according to Cumberbatch.
Such an event sheds a positive light on the city along with providing a monetary gain for the businesses.
“Hotels, the restaurants, this venue [all benefit],” Cumberbatch said. “People get to see this beautiful venue. Not many places have a venue that has a track and field from baseball to tennis….Then further down is the soccer fields…So it’s exposing New Brunswick.”