Ten years ago the question was posed, "How can we increase participation in this sport?"
In search of answering that question, a conversation with Florida trail blazers commenced. Their idea? Host a middle school cross country state championship -- an event designed to grow the love of the sport at a young age.
A lot has happened since July 2010 when Laura Fredrickson, Joe Mizereck, Ken Key, Jason Byrne, Chris Sumner, Robert Higham, Gary Kinney, Billy Convey, Robin Safley, and Frank Ramos all had a conference call to talk about the growth of the sport and kicked off the non-profit organization called the Florida Youth Running Association (FLYRA).
The first edition of the FLRYA Middle School Cross Country Championship hosted nearly 400 athletes with names that would end up dominating on the high school cross country scene, including the likes of Daesha Rogers, Kurt Convey, Jesse Millson, Carlin Berryhill, Alexa Cruz, Julia Montgomery, and so many others.
The inaugural event hosted by this new non-profit organization was a success.
Since 2010, FLYRA has hosted athletes that would soon become top national names in their high school and college career --supporting and encouraging new development of middle school programs with the intent of introducing more and more athletes to cross country.