Qualifications for Membership

There are no qualifications except for age -membership is open only to boys and girls from 6 to 18. Previous track and field or running experience is not necessary. Although Junior Olympics is structured to providing high-level competition for advanced athletes it is also known as the premier track and field program in America for beginners. Practices are geared to the age level and ability of the athletes, with some coaches working with advanced groups and others with beginning athletes. Competition is only against athletes in the same age group and advancement from one meet to the next is based on performance. Most Asheville Lightning team members come from the Buncombe County area but anyone from Western North Carolina is welcome to join the team. Teams in recent years have had about 50 members.


Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from 6:00 to 7:45  depending on the weather. Bring water bottles (sports drink and water only) and an inhaler if you use one. Athletes are expected to be on time for practice. Practices will be interrupted only if thunderstorms are present.

While members may participate in practice only, it is recommended for athletes to participate in track and field events because competition performance is a necessary part of development for an athlete. Experience has shown also that participation in the meets, regardless of performance, is a highly positive experience for young athletes. Lots of fun! Membership is for the full summer season and athletes are encouraged to continue to practice with the team even if they no longer are competing. 

Birth Certificates

Athletes who plan to compete in meets must become age verified through the North Carolina membership office of the USATF.  These copies are required by USATF at meets to verify the age of the athletes so that older athletes do not compete against younger ones.  

Please note that a legible copy of a birth certificate is all that is needed.  Originals or certified copies are not necessary.  Once registered as a member with USATF, parents must mail a copy of their child’s birth certificate with their USATF membership number clearly marked on it to:

USATF North Carolina
PO Box 576, Garner, NC 27529-0576


Birth certificates must be mailed by June 14, 2019, to ensure athletes are eligible for competition in the June state meet.

Age Groups

Junior Olympics is divided into six divisions. The athlete’s year of birth shall determine the division in which the athlete shall compete. With each succeeding year, each division shall be adjusted as shown below.   Athletes who turn 19 in any competition year can compete in Junior Olympics in the Young Men/Young Women Division providing they turn 19 after the final day of the National Championship Meet. If their birthday is before the last day of the National Meet, they may compete in the YM/YW division.

Fund Raising

The Asheville Lightning is a non-profit organization and relies on a number of ways of raising funds to purchase equipment, pay for practice venue expenses  and to provide travel and meet expenses for the team. These include sponsorships from individuals and businesses.