RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - This is not just a track team. This is something more.
“We’re all just one big family,” says runner Shawn Johnson.
This team is not just united by running, but a common bond.
This is the Coastal Georgia Track Team, a squad just a few days away from sending 18 athletes to the AAU Junior Olympics.
“I’m nervous and excited because I’ve never been to the Junior Olympics," says runner Samaya Scranton.
“I think everybody’s tuned in, everybody’s dialed in," says head coach Isaiah Taylor. "They’re looking forward to the Junior Olympics because they know the competition there.”
But medals aren’t everything to this team, and there are a lot of medals.
This squad though has found a niche providing something greater: stability for a number of military kids.
Head coach Isaiah Taylor estimates more than 70 percent of his team are children of active military member. It’s a life that is not always the most rooted.
“It’s pretty tough," says Scranton. "You have to keep leaving your friends, making new friends, going to different schools. Plus moving just sucks.”
It’s something Wilson and his team know well. Every coach is active or retired military themselves.
“Wometimes we have kids where one or both parents have to go serve, many times in a deployment," says Taylor. "But they know they have these coaches that also have to experience that, so we know how it feels.”
That’s where the family comes through, offering some support in the form of shoes and a starting line.
“We want to grow together, be strong, and stay together," says Johnson. "I know I’m going to come here, work hard every day, and coach is going to have my back”
These runners know their next test will be tough, but they have high goals and plenty of confidence. And more than anything, they know they have their family will have their back.