Jesse Holt’s life has been anything but mundane.
As a young man and a world-class athlete, he competed against two people — Bob Hayes and Jimmy Hines, both of whom held the title of “World’s Fastest Human.” He saw and met Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson. He played for the Oakland Raiders in the NFL.
All of that was both impressive and intriguing to Holt during his younger years.
However, that’s the glitter, and there comes a time to put things in perspective. Holt, now 73, has done just that.
These days, and many, many days before this, he has been coaching kids of all ages in a sport — track and field — that he immensely loves.
Holt assesses his work with kids by saying, “I’ve taken a step up in life.”
The results of his all-important work will be on display Friday through Sunday this week as the 41st Northwest Express Track and Field Meet — all 41 of them put on by Holt — will be off and running at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar.
The meet, with some 2,000 contestants, is annually the largest track event in South Florida. There are some 17 states represented, along with various foreign countries, including huge contingents from Jamaica — famous for its sprinters, including Usain Bolt — and the Bahamas.
The meet is an everybody-come-have-fun athletic festival, with contestants ranging in age from 5 to 80.
However, it’s the kids’ portion of it that is special to Holt, who has morphed from a world-class athlete into a world-class mentor of children.
Which part of his life — athlete or teacher of kids — means the most to Holt?
“I would have to say the best part would have to be what I have done with the kids,” he said. “I know what kids need.
“I was taught to compete at a very early age,” Holt said, looking far, far back in his memory. “Adults would be lining up in the streets of Overtown, and I would run over and line up next to them and try to run with them. Sometimes they would let me run and other times they would shoosh me away.”
Then, with a laugh, he added, “Of course, when we did run we had to dodge cars.”
Then Holt summed up his long-running track meet and the latter part of his life.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of so many young lives,” he said. “It’s a time when you can give them some direction and emphasize education. We’ve always tried to help kids develop their talents and skills, and that includes academics.
“It has been a lot of fun.”
NW EXPRESS TRACK MEET
Where: Ansin Sports Complex, 10801 Miramar Road, Miramar.
Competitors: 2,000 track and field athletes from 17 states and around the world. Age range from 5 to 80 years old.
Schedule: Friday — 5 p.m. start for both track and field events; Saturday — 8 a.m. start for javelin, followed by other events; track events begin at 10 a.m. Sunday — Events begin at 10 a.m.