The Dr. Daniel Cepero Memorial Track Meet has become one of the signature events during the summer in the Permian Basin.
The annual event brings out kids from all over the Permian Basin and outside of West Texas as well.
As the event enters its 15th year, director Stella Neboh continues to be impressed at the progress the event has made over the years. This year’s meet starts at 6 tonight at Ratliff Stadium and continues through Saturday.
“It continues to grow and get better each year,” she said. “We try to get more people involved every year especially the little children. We try to get them and their parents to be more enthusiastic about it.”
Neboh added, “I get calls from as early as January asking about when the track meet is. It’s very exciting to be a part of this.”
One of the big points of emphasis has been the growth of the Tiny Tots program. The program, aimed at kids from 2 to 6 years old, has only a couple of events during the annual meet.
But as Neboh puts it, having that program in place is a continuation of a vision that Dr. Cepero had before he passed away in 2003.
“He always believed that if we could keep children active during the summer that it would eventually reduce childhood obesity,” she said. “The track program helps give kids something to do during the summer and that was the maingoal.”
One of the other rewarding aspects about running the track meet for Neboh is seeing how participation is being passed down from one generation to the next.
She says that she’s even started working with some of the kids of those who participated in meets of years past.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to do that,” she said. “The kids are enjoying the program and the parents are, too.”
The passing down of participation from one generation extends down within her own family. Her sons, Felix and Richard, work as assistant coaches of the West Texas Track Club.
For Felix, getting to coach and work the event gives him a chance to refl ect back on his own athletic career from his days at Permian.
“Growing up here in this community and watching these kids running gives me a chance to reminisce back when I was a little kid doing the exact same thing,” Felix said. “To be able to help out, give knowledge and coach up the next group of athletes is a great opportunity.”
The Nebohs also work with the community to provide opportunities for others. During the track meet,
a handful of $1,000 scholarships are handed out to those who participate in the meet.
The highest number given out in one year is 10back in 2011. For Stella, it’s just another way that she can give back to the community.
“We want to encourage student-athletes not onlyto continue running track but to go to college and to continue to be successful in life,” she said.
In the end, Neboh goes back to working with the little ones as her favorite part of the job. It’s notonly a chance to continue the vision that Dr. Cepero had but it also brings her joy as she continues to run the event.
“We want to keep the little kids involved and increase the numbers from there,” she said. “If we teach them at a young age how to run correctly and get them interested in track and field, we don’t have to worry about their form when they get to middle school or high school.
“It gives me hope that some of those tiny tots will continue to keep track and field alive in West Texas when they get older.”