The Shaldera Panthers Track Club was formed in May of 1986 by then Air Force Captain Ed Latimer. The Club was named in honor of his family members. Two letters were used to represent their names:
SH – Shantelle his daughter
AL – Aleisha his daughter
DE – Derien his son
RA – Raye his wife.
The mascot of the Panthers was selected because we wanted to have something that fit in with Panama City. The original name was as depicted on the logo above which was the Panama City Shaldera Panthers, later to be called SHALDERA.
Much like the relaunched Shaldera Track Club of 2014, the original team started small with only 11 athletes who competed in both AAU and TAC (now USATF) Junior Olympic meets. The althletes came from Rutherford, Moseley, and Soesterburg American High Schools, Everett and Mowat Middle Schools and Callaway Elementary School.
The 1986 Shaldera Club established a legacy of success with 3 AAU Region III winners [Cynthia Britt 17-18 100m 11.90, 200m 23.80(regional record), Long Jump 19′ 0″; Shantelle Latimer 15-16 400m 57.56(regional record); Darlene Godfrey 13-14 800m 2:28.50] and the team’s first national champion with Cynthia Britt winning both the 200 meters in 24.30 and the long jump with a leap of 18′ 9″ in St. Louis.
In the club’s second year, the team grew to 40 athletes. The Panthers qualified 21 athletes for the AAU Nationals, 11 girls and 10 boys. None of the teammembers went to the AAU Nationals that year but two atheletes attended the AAU Junior Olympic Track Invitational in Hammond, Indiana. There Shaldera crowned it’s second national champion, 8 year old Aleisha Latimer, who won the 100m in 14.11 (13.85P).
The Panthers had an outstanding season in 1988 with the team growing to 55 athletes and 5 coaches. The team won their first relay national championship with the midget girl’s (11-12) [Detra Vickers, Latrice Hughes, Lisa Wilkerson, and Latesha Steele] winning the TAC(now USATF) Junior Olympic Nationals in the 4x100m relay in a time of 52.34. The club qualified 42 athletes for the 1988 AAU Junior Olympic Nationals resulting in 8 individual medalist and a 2nd place relay medal. The team also won it’s first Southeast AAU Team Championship and placed 2nd in the AAU Region III Championship.
The 1989 Shaldera Panthers, now 63 athlete strong, continued the excellence of previous years by winning 47 medals at the Florida Sunshine State Games, qualifying 27 athletes for the TAC Nationals, and capturing 37 medals at the AAU Region III, qualifying 34 athletes for the AAU Junior Olympic Nationals. Aleisha Latimer (10) went on to win two gold medals in the AAU Junior Olympic Nationals winning the bantam 100m and 200m title. On her way to the championship, Aleisha set national records in both the 100m (13.13) and 200m (27.24). Records that will stand for more than a decade before they were finally broken in 2001. The panthers concluded the season winning 12 National medals and three national records including Derien Latimer’s (12) 200m record of 24.69.
1990 – 1997
The club continued during this time however the records of this period seem to have been lost in a home flood. Unfortunately the online archives of the AAU Junior Olympic Games only go back to 1998. During this time period Coach Sylvester Jones became the head coach of the program.
1998 – 2013
After Coach Jones moved away from the Panama City area, the club didn’t exist under the Shaldera name however several athletes from the Panama City area competed in youth track and field at the national level continuing the rich tradition of this area.
The Shaldera Track Club relaunched under the leadership of Coach Sylvester Jones in 2014 after more than 14 years. We started small via word-of-mouth and reconnecting with former Shaldera athletes now parents themselves. The 2014 team had 16 athletes, 9 of which qualified for the AAU District 9 Regions and 6 of which qualified for the 2014 Junior Olympic Games.
As of Jan 1 2015, the Shaldera Track Club, Inc. was registered as a Florida Not-for-Profit Corporation with the State of Florida as a 501c3 eligible organization. We also launched a whole new image including a modernized logo, new website, and social media profiles. It is our hope that this progress will enable us to garner the community support to be able to not only offer our kids the opportunity to compete but also to host our own meet once the renovations of Tommy Oliver Stadium are completed.