Sports: Staying in their lane: Junior Olympics, Armenian Youth Olympics bringing events to Clinton

Jan Gottesman

The Item

CLINTON – How attractive are the Clinton track and field facilities across from Clinton High School on Route 110?

Two large events – the Junior Olympics of the U.S. Track and Field of New England and the Armenian Youth Olympics – will be taking place there this summer.

The USTF event is Saturday, June 18, and the Armenian Youth Olympics is Sunday, Sept. 4.

"Both of these all-day events will be held at our prestigious Veterans Athletic Complex and we anticipate 1,000 competitors and 3,000 spectators throughout the day for The Junior Olympics," according to the Clinton Athletics Facebook post. "The track and the surrounding parking lots will be in extreme use on those days."

"These organizations reached out to me because of hardships that have occurred for scheduling events as some college venues are still not prepared to host these types of events," Clinton Athletic Director John Smith said. "I spoke to David Vanasse about it since we all know Dave is a highly respected track enthusiast throughout Central Mass. and he took the ball and got it rolling."

In addition to coach Clinton High track, Vanasse is also the district's food service director.

Vanasse said the USTF thought Clinton was a good location because of its central location in New England.

"I brought the director here and he loved it. The facility had everything he wanted," Vanasse said. That includes an eight-lane track. "There are not any at a high school level that has eight lanes all around, and not just the straight away. "He fell in love with the facility."

Part of the requirements were parking, and the three lots – between the Veterans Complex, the middle and high schools – met their need. So did facilities like bathroom and concession stand. Vanasse said the agreement includes that the concessions will be run locally and benefit the Clinton Track program.

The concession stand is a "state-of-the-art concession stand" that was updated and used during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the food services department used all facilities available to run its program and deliver meals to students working remotely.

"It was another area we could prepare food and work out of," Vanasse said.

The person organizing the Armenian Youth Olympics was also impressed by the facilities and decided to hold that event in Clinton.

The USTF program will be the larger of the two. In 2019, they had 800 elite athletes compete, ages 8 to 18, so they are geared up to handle 1,000 to 2,000 spectators.

The Armenian event should have 100 to 150 competitors.

For the June 18 competition, there will be police officers to help pedestrians cross Route 110 and an EMT on site. Vanasse will be there as the director of the track to make things go smoothly. The competition is scheduled for 9 a.m. to about 6 or 7 p.m.

"I was thinking outside the box and how phenomenal it will be for the town and Clinton track," Vanasse said. "People will ride by and see thousands of people enjoying the facility and it could bring people to town to shop at businesses in the future. This is the first time we have done something like this and hopefully they will come back."