BALLSTON SPA — Xiomara “Zee” Diaz ran in circles for the entirety of her 36 years. She ran for the Puerto Rican national team as a sprinter and ran all over the world: Venezuela, Canada and Columbia. Running all those circles around the track brought her here, to the United States, to Ballston Spa, where she founded Spa City Running.Her Creations X gym on South Street is a Spartan training facility, a specialized den, a dojo for for the every-day sport. It’s her start up, and so too is Spa City.
“The inspiration is a love I have for sport and people,” Diaz said. “I been in a few 5ks. There’s a lot of people and no sense of belonging. Eveybody says ‘Have you heard of anything?’ I took it upon myself and said ‘Hakuna Matata,’ let’s do it.”
The running club consists of a youth and open track and field division, a road racing division and a cross country division to appeal all runners across all disciplines. Running gave her a life in the States as she became a scholarship-athlete at the University at Albany. She was an All-American and an inductee into the UAlbany Track and Field Hall of Fame.
“She’s highly motivated, highly committed,” said Roberto Vives, Diaz’s college coach. “She’s always been a leader.”
Diaz grew up in Puerto Rico. She was a hyper child and tried a number of different sports. Soon she found out just how quick she was and channeled all that energy onto the track. Her mother, Jean, was her first coach. She woke early in the morning, climbed into her white Datsun and followed her daughter around the streets.
“She would make sure I’d go up hills and down hills,” Diaz said.
Diaz enrolled in a prep school in Puerto Rico that took talented athletes like herself and groomed them to be stars. She excelled. It provided her with so many opportunities. It provided her with a life.
“Going from that point, track and field provided me, a humble kid, almost poor, the means to get a scholarship to go to college,” she said. “Track and field offered me the opportunity to travel the world. Getting to know all these people, I had that experience. I feel it’s my duty to help others to try and achieve their goals. That’s why I opened the running club.”
At her son’s track meets, she’d see other towns represented with banners and booths, but nothing from Ballston Spa.
“There was a need for it, we are sport driven people,” she said.
Other sports, the gear can put tension on the purse strings. Lacrosse, hockey, baseball, softball, it all adds up. Sure, running has its costs, but at its most elementary level, all an athlete needs is a pair of shoes.
“It’s very affordable for parents to put their kids in,” Diaz said.
For more information about Spa City, contact Diaz at 518-414-4392 or email her at [email protected].
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