A photo of Jerry Mason and Thomas Ray PalmoreWhen you tether academic excellence to physical activity, you create the T.J Striders Youth Track & Field Club, housed at San Bernardino Valley College since 1996 under the Southern California Association/UTF.

Jerry Mason, currently a custodian at SBVC, and his brother-in-law Thomas Ray Palmore created an after-school track & field club when the need was dire. Reflecting on his history in athletics, Jerry was an incredible athlete at Cajon High School—but he never got the support he needed. Turning his past into tinder for flame, Jerry brandished a simple attitude: “Let’s go out here and start helping these kids,” and T.J. Striders has spread through the Inland Empire community like wildfire.

A letter written to Jerry Mason and Thomas Ray PalmoreThere are kids everywhere with untapped potential, and Jerry wanted to do something about it, to “get the kids off the streets” and into a unified cohort where they would be both academically and physically active. The success of the after-school program garners acclaim from more than just students and their parents: coaches, rivalling or intramural, community members, and even scouts attend the club after school to see the kids play their hearts out and funnel their energy into something life-changing.

Jerry hosts the track & field club after work from 6:00-7:45, and he is quick to remind the 50-90 students who participate annually that academics and family are first: track is not everything. This morale has echoed deep within the souls of the students, with several returning to Coach Jerry after completing high school, college, or even military deployments to personally thank him for the light he kindled in them.

If you or anyone you know is aged 6-18 and interested in joining T.J. Striders Track & Field Club, we invite you whole-heartedly; and if you’d like to volunteer, open hands are welcome and extended.