Bulldawg Stadium is a battleground.
Whether hosting an intense football game, a district track meet or a back-and-forth soccer match, the competition is usually fierce.
On Monday evenings during the summer, however, it becomes a playground.
For the past six years, members of the Copperas Cove coaching staff have donated their time to run weekly track meets for area kids, opening Bulldawg Stadium to athletes of all ages.
It is simply a way to give back, according to Bulldawgs head track coach Keith Stifflemire, who began putting on the meets when he arrived at Copperas Cove in 2009.
“It is an all-volunteer deal,” he said. “We don’t take money. We don’t charge people. The coaches don’t get paid. It is just about getting out there and having fun. It is something good for the community, and it keeps kids busy and keeps them tired.”
Run in conjunction with the Copperas Cove summer track program established approximately 20 years ago, the weekly meets are composed of many typical track and field events. Participants can compete in staples of the sport, such as the pole vault, high jump,long jump, discus and shot put or choose from a variety of running events, ranging from short dashes to long distances to hurdles to relay races.
The meets begin each week at 5 p.m., and although most of the competitors are school-age children, anybody is welcome.
“We have all age divisions,” Stifflemire said.
“We actually have 2-year-olds who get out there and run the 50-meter dash. So, it is all ages up to 18, and every now and then, we’ll even have an adult that wants to run, and we don’t ever tell them no.”
The inspiration for establishing the meets stems from Stifflemire’s childhood, when he was growing up in Hamilton.
“When I was in high school, Baylor used to do that every Thursday night,” he said. “I just thought that we had enough people in the community that we could have some real good meets.”
In the years since, the weekly meets have grown in popularity, climaxing in recent weeks.
“The first year, I think we had about 50 kids,” Stifflemire said.
“It was real small. Then, we had more than 100 the next year. Last year, I think we had about 250, and that was our biggest meet until one of the meets this year had about 360 kids. So, it just keeps getting bigger every year.”