While most people are still asleep in the morning, Buddy McCrummen is either running along the North Douglas Highway or training at the Downtown Juneau Racquet Club.
McCrummen, who graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in June, has been selected to compete in the 14-day Australian Classic track and field tournament as a member of the United States People to People Sports Ambassadors Program.
"Personally, I don't know how I was selected (for the event)," he said. "I am both nervous and very excited. It won't matter if I win or lose, I am mostly there to have fun."
The roots of the People to People Sports Ambassadors Program reach back to 1956, when it was founded by President Eisenhower. The program offers student athletes the chance to compete in 45 different tournaments around the world and discover firsthand the diversity of many nations. Each competitive Sports Ambassadors Program includes a balanced combination of clinics, competition events and cultural visits.
While there are 12 boys that make up the U.S. delegation to Australia for the Aug. 8-21 track meet, McCrummen will be the only Alaskan.
"I checked what the weather is going to be like down in Australia. It is actually not much different than Juneau, so I'll be used to it," he said.
In addition to competing in the 100, 200 and 3,000-meter races, McCrummen will also be attending a week-long running camp in New Zealand. He was a member of the Crimson Bears cross-country team during the four years that he attended high school.
"I started running as a freshman in high school," he said. "I thought it might be a good idea and the cross-country coach asked me to join the team."
"Buddy was a real individualist," said Guy Thibodeau, JDHS cross-country coach. "By really taking to the Klondike Relay (a 164-kilometer relay race from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, to Skagway) he took a big step above what high school running called for. I think he realizes that being fit is a lifestyle and I think it will serve him well in life."
Running has always helped, McCrummen said.
"I know it helped my self-esteem. Just that great feeling you get after finishing a long run gives me a sense of accomplishment," he said.
According to McCrummen the tuition -- which covers airfare, room and some meals -- is $4,300.
"We've sent out a bunch of letters looking for sponsors but no one has offered yet," said McCrummen in a written statement. "So, we'll probably be paying (for this trip) next summer too."
McCrummen plans to continue participating in races around Juneau next year as he pursues a Cisco Network Certificate at UAS.
The Sports Ambassador's Program is offered to athletes 11- to 19-years-old in multiple sports.
"We weigh heavily on the educational and cultural aspects. The athletes are going to learn a lot and some will even earn high school or college credit," said Kevin Campbell of the Sports Ambassador's Program. "Certainly (this program) gives athletes an appreciation of culture and how athletics are perceived outside of Alaska as well as the U.S."
Wayne Xia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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