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Enlighten Me: West End Neighborhood House track club crowned national champions

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media
A congratulatory sign outside of West End Neighborhood House's community center.

This month’s Amateur Athletic Union National Club Championships in Orlando, Florida featured teams from around the country and beyond.

And when all was said and done, the West End Neighborhood House ‘Above Xpectations’ team took home the gold and the title of national champions.

In this week’s Enlighten Me, we meet Above ‘Xpectations’ head coach Antwain Flowers – as well as team members Anaeja Ferrell and Donte Dockery – to hear about their championship performance and what it means.

Delaware Public Media's Tom Byrne highlights West End Neighborhood House's national championship-winning track club

West End Neighborhood House’s Above ‘Xpectations’ = national championship at a competition that included 396 teams.

The Above ‘Xpectations’ Track Team took home the gold at July’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) National Club Championships.

Nearly 4,300 athletes between the ages of 5 and 18 took part in the 6-day international event including 75 Above ‘Xpectations’ members.

Donte Dockery - 1st Place 17-18 Mens Triple Jump & 2nd Place 17-18 Mens 4x800m Relay
West End Neighborhood House
Donte Dockery - 1st Place 17-18 Mens Triple Jump & 2nd Place 17-18 Mens 4x800m Relay

40 of them finished in the top 8 to achieve “All-American” status.

The team even had four age-group winners.

Those winners are:

  • Ke’Von Briddle (15-16) Boys Discus Throw
  • Jackson Bliey (17-18) Men's Discus Throw
  • Timothy Wright (17-18) Men's Long Jump
  • Donte Dockery (17-18) Men's Triple Jump

Antwain Flowers is the head coach and West End’s Youth Development Department Program Director. He says in some instances the kids have overcome so much.

"Some of the biggest barriers are just some of the trauma that our athletes encounter," said Flowers. "Unfortunately, we have had kids whose parents have maybe been murdered, or they might not have the family support. We've dealt with homelessness, mental illness, we've dealt with a lot of hurdles that sometimes all of our coaches aren't always trained to deal with, but we deal with it to the best of our abilities and providing with resources."

So Flowers says his job is about more than just helping these kids achieve athletically.

"My main focus has always been making sure that all of our athletes are taking the academic step beyond high school," he said. "So beyond track I don't care about trophies and titles I want them to take the next step beyond high school. So it is making sure that our education programs are intact, our education programs are robust, and we're giving them the skill sets to be successful in life."

The team competes again this week with more than 70 All-Americans qualified for the AAU Jr. Olympics in Greensboro, North Carolina August 1-6.

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Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for nearly three decades.