work hard, play hard, RUN FAST!

About the Flyers


Chicago Flyers unique program has  shaped over 800 youth into tomorrow’s leaders through speed, fitness and character development. Our exceptional coaching staff partners with schools and organizations to bring together children and teens from across the Chicago area to develop leadership skills, self-confidence, and a lifelong passion for fitness. Team members who complete our track & field and cross country training programs are resilient, caring, and engaged, and have the tools to make a strong, positive impact on their communities.


About Us:

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Chicago Flyers is committed to transforming our members into fit and healthy kids, regardless of athletic ability. Even more importantly, our safe, modern curriculum develops the whole person by emphasizing mental and physical core attributes, then building outward. We use athletic training and games to foster our members’ strength, discipline, achievement, honesty, and sense of responsibility. Our team’s parents are supportive because they see their children growing stronger while building character, making friends, and having fun.


Chicago Flyers curriculum meets the guidelines set by the International Youth Conditioning Association, and we are a member of the Amateur Athletic Association (AAU) and USA Track and Field (USATF). Our members have qualified and medaled in national and state events, including the AAU Nationals, the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA), and the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) competitions. We have set local 5K Middle School Conference records, won AAU State XC meet, and placed as a team in the top 5 at Nationals. While most of our athletes continue in high school athletics, they also may go on to be recruited by DI and DIII universities.

Why We Do What We Do:

Coach Michelle founded the Flyers in 2009 with 22 athletes.  She believes that children should have programs that build resilience, systematically teach personal success and allows for fun.  Training programs should be age appropriate with long term results in mind. 



Summer Track Season:
·     Speed and Cross Country Camp:  All levels of runners are welcome and will succeed. A positive attitude after the first few days is required!  June 3-July 17.  Includes 2 fun track meets, community runs and Forest Preserve Family Fun run.  Includes AAU Membership and t-shirt. (2020 will include AAU/USATF sanctioned track meets.)
Cross Country:
·      August- 1 Week Cross Country Camp for Middle School XC runners.  $110.

September 3 - November 21-Short and Long Seasons. Event distance 1.5-3.1 miles
·      Age: 9-14 with minimum distance requirements,
·      Desire to be on the team
·      Minimum 2-3 practices per week
·      Shoes remain tied
·      Parent/athlete responsible for on-time, layers, water, running shoes,
·      60 minute attention span
·      Respectful
·      Running Mechanics/Drills
·      Event training
·      Core/Coordination/Balance/Agility
·      Dynamic Warm-ups
·      Teamwork
·      Team Values
·      Attitude
·      Multiple Training Groups-Events/Level/Gender/Age
See Calendar for dates and locations.
-      XC Season-invites, weekend runs on paths in forest preserves, team dinners, Scavenger  Hunt,
·      Family Practice
·      Community Run- Local 5k’s, UCTC/HCS Track Meets,   
·      Volunteer Hours (possibly) and Participation!
- Ensuring that child is delivered to practice 5 minutes early!
Scholarships are available for families in need.
Register on site. Questions? 

Contact  Cost should never be a barrier to development and community!
WHY PAY FOR A TEAM WHEN I COULD JUST RUN WITH MY KID?  We usually employ 4-20 coaches per season to ensure that your child has the best coaching available. This is our profession.  We have overhead, insurance, facilities, supplies, this website.  Our practices are different everyday, meeting the needs of  children on different levels, requiring constant education.  This is cheaper than a babysitter and much cheaper than league football, soccer, lacrosse, swim team or detention.  Plus high school coaches like to come to our practices and meet the kids!
Cross Country Meets, arrive an hour or so before the race for warm-up and then however long it takes your athlete to complete their race of 1.5-2.5 miles.  Usually a nice day in the fall but perhaps you might bring an umbrella or a hot coffee (for yourself of course.)
Does not apply for 2018-Kids compete based on age group.  The most common events are: 100/200/400/800/1500/3000 and 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 relays.  Long and Triple Jumps may be recommended.  Although we compete in the meets that lead to AAU Nationals, at times we compete in a USATF sponsored event.  USATF IL has a great explanation of meets and parent involvement at
What's up with all those letters? AAU, Amateur Athletic Union, is the organization that the Flyers compete to the National Level.  Most age groups are defined by individual birth year.  USATF, USA Track & Field, also offers national competition but  each competition group includes 2 birth years.  For the 2018 season, members are only required to have an AAU extended benefits membership for club liability and competition.  We will registrater your athlete. During the cross country season, XC, we compete in AAU, USATF and attend the YES Nationals meet.
Practices are held in snow, moderate rain and even sunshine.  Practice is canceled or moved to a safe area if sleet/hail/lava and thunder threaten.  A practice is called/delayed within 30 minutes of start time if inclement weather is anticipated, or shortened with an email to practice groups.  The same email notification is given if the team has sought cover.  One of the best performances of the team followed a practice in a surprise downpour.  Since practices are held in changing weather, the team has a MANDATORY PRACTICE GEAR policy.  Athletes must arrive at practice with one additional top layer if temperature is between 65 and 80 degrees.  Athletes must arrive at practice with one long (to ankles) layer of pants and two top layers if temperature is between 30 and 64 degrees. Hat and gloves are recommended at this temperature also. The bag, with clothing or if worn, is the parents' responsibility.  



Michelle Gagnard, Founder


 Coach Michelle has experienced athletic success in competitive running, swimming, triathlons, and aerobics. Her coaching experience began with high school track and adult learn-to-run programs, however, her passion is helping kids find their passion for sport through intelligent training. Innovatively,  she unites concepts and  resources to develop training methods for the long-term healthy development of the entire child.  

Certification -USATF-Level 2, Sprints/Relay/Hurdles, International Youth Conditioning Association-Strength, USATF Podium Series, Muscle Activation  Technique-Level 1, Track Football Consortium, Reflexive Performance Reset, Speed Training. American Swim Coach Association.

Coach Kirsten


Coach Kirsten started running with the Flyers in 6th grade! Her favorite memory of the Flyers was making life long friends with everyone and being able to compete against them or with them in high school.  Her favorite parts of practice were the hash runs and ultimate frisbee at the end of practice.   As a youth competitor, she competed at XC Nationals 2x and AAU Track Nationals 3x!  

She is now a freshman at the University of Oregon and runs with the XC and Track club team,  qualifying for NIRCA Nationals in Kentucky. During Kirsten's senior year at LT her cross-country team placed 3rd at IHSA 3A State and she ran her 5k pr of 18:08. She is  currently focusing on running half marathons and working her way up to a full marathon. 

Why Kirsten is returning for her 3rd season as a coach?  "I love coaching the Flyers because it is so fun to see kids find joy in the sport that I have been doing for years now. I also love watching them improve throughout the camp and even see where the running career takes them in high school."

Coach Gillian



Since 2009, Coach Gillian has loved spending time with the kids as a Flyers coach. She is excited to be coming back this summer because watching the athletes progress is both rewarding and fun. The Flyers has become a second home for her, seeing as she’s grown up going to races, being dragged through forest preserves for hours setting hashes, and attending practices. 

She is a second year at the University of Chicago majoring in Economics with a minor in Molecular Engineering. Her freshman year, she made the Dean’s List.

While she never really picked up running, she did go another route. Coach Gillian is a member of the varsity swim team at the University of Chicago. She competes in the 100 & 200 backstroke as well as the 200 & 400 medley and freestyle relays. Her freshman year, she received 4 NCAA All-American and Scholar All-American honors and placed 9th in the 200 backstroke at NCAAs. This past year, as a sophomore, she placed 6th in the 200 backstroke at NCAAs and received 3 All-American honors. She is also a member of the school’s current record-holding 400 medley relay. Having swam for nearly 10 years now, she channels her experience into coaching through strength and conditioning, attention to detail, and attitude.

Coach Colin


Coach Colin began running with the Flyers after his first season of Middle School Cross County, and was also active with swimming and soccer.  Of those activities, running started to click and the Flyers provided a great opportunity to learn more about the sport.  Colin participated in local, regional, and national events for both cross country and track but more importantly, developed into a strong leader and became an assistant coach for the Junior Flyers.

In high school, Colin continued to develop during his four years, often returning to the Flyers to help out.  Colin ended his high school country career with an all-state performance, helping his team to a fourth place finish.  

Colin is now running for the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois.  In his freshman year, he set personal bests of 25:11 for 8K at the Big Ten Championships and 32:23 for 10K at the NCAA Midwest Regional.

Colin’s philosophy on running? “Running is not necessarily easy but can be fun.  Putting in the effort and seeing the results is very rewarding.  I started out thinking that running was an individual sport, but came to learn that team matters.  I’ve gained life-long friends from this sport based on our mutual understanding of what it takes to succeed."

Guest Coaches

We welcome high school coaches, college coaches, older Chicago Flyers to guest coach at practices.  Kids have the opportunity to meet future coaches and be inspired by the older teammates.  High school coaches have the opportunity to see how the Flyers produce happy, motivated, injury-free athletes!