Masters to resurrect the Southern California Striders

The Southern California Striders, which began in the mid-1950s as an elite track club featuring Olympians and world-record holders, will make a comeback in 2007 after years of quiescence as a masters-only organization. That was the big news coming out of the Striders’ annual awards banquet tonight in Anaheim Hills, California. Club President Brenda Matthews, a W55 sprint champion, announced that the Striders will re-form as a 5013c charitable group that will again boast open-class athletes. In previous incarnations, the Striders were called the Beverly Hills Striders and the Tobias Striders (after a clothing company). But the club, which won national AAU championships, ceased to exist on the open level by the 1990s, unable to compete with shoe-company sponsored athletes and clubs.

In recent years, the Striders were technically the Southern California Striders Masters Track and Field Club. But when final federal approval of its re-organization and tax-exempt status comes down in the next few months, the club will once again call itself the Southern California Striders, Brenda told members, spouses and friends.
On a night when USC track coach Ron Allice described the changes in the sport over the decades as featured speaker, the Striders’ webmaster, M45 sprinter Eric Dixon, showed off changes coming to the club’s Web site (a Flash opening that includes snazzy sound and graphics).
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Striders were among the most prestigious track clubs in the United States, boasting world record holders and Olympic champs such as Ralph Boston, Mike Larrabee and Rafer Johnson. Mal Whitfield and George Rhoden were among its founders in 1955.
But Striders 2.0 won’t be able to make a complete comeback to national-title status. It doesn’t have the money for that. Instead, it will try to leverage its history and traditions to attact open athletes for the first time in many years, and do the best it can with its active members.
Brenda says the club now has fewer than 80 members, with only 35 or active as athletes.
At tonight’s awards banquet at the Foxfire Restaurant, the club also feasted on filet mignon and honored its best athletes of 2006, including:
— W65 sprinter/high jumper Kathy Bergen as Striders Athlete of the Year
— M60 sprinter Stan Whitley as Male Athlete of the Year
— W50 sprinter Jeanne Bowman as Female Athlete of the Year
— W50 sprinter Debbie Selby for its Renegade Award.
Photos of the event will be posted soon.

Print Friendly

December 28, 2006

Leave a Reply