Lewis decided to start a program that would introduce the younger kids to cross-country, hoping they would continue running and eventually improve the High School program. The Shafter Recreation Parks and District wasn’t ready to take on the program, however they were able to offer insurance & liability coverage for the program. After posting an ad for a no-cost running program in the Shafter Press, he received many calls. After just a few practices, they came up with the name “Shafter Striders”.
In order to fund the program, they collected unwanted items and had family yard sales and hosted jog-a-thons. This would pay for entry fees, uniforms, and charter buses for any of the runners who made it to the State Championships.
The program today would not be what it is without the guidance and influence of all the previous coaches. Terri Lewis, along with Rick Gonzales, Daniel Cruz, Joni Lewis, Robert Waters, and Joan Handel were coaches from the early times in the program. Most of the coaches were parents who would go out and help the team.
In 1993, Lewis was offered a position coaching Shafter High’s cross country and track teams. He did both for a year, but quickly realized it was too much. He handed the program over to other coaches and to this date is still involved with the High School teams, with great success! As the years went by some coaches left and new ones would take over. We hope to keep this tradition alive.
Many of the Shafter Strider coaches today, at one time ran for the Striders, the Shafter High cross-country program and/or the Shafter High track program in their youth. Our current coaches are Alejandro Loeza, Octavio Loeza, Marco Lara, and Denise Loeza.
Last year, the Shafter Striders program joined forces with Shafter Recreation to support a low-cost program that is available for children from 4 years old to 8th grade. Many of our runners continue to run in High School and we are proud to say that our teams do well.
We would like to give a special thanks to all the previous and current coaches, parents and sponsors who help keep this program going. Without the efforts of our supporters, the program would not be the success it is today!