When Tyler Badie thinks about New Orleans, he doesn't remember much. He was only 6 years old when his family left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"I remember playing with my friends," Badie, now 11, said. "I remember the good food. And the Saints."
Now an athlete himself, Badie has earned a spot in the track and field AAU Junior Olympics, which will be held this week in, of all places, New Orleans.
"It's going to be really, really nice," Badie's father, Shaun, said. "It's going to be the first time Tyler will be competing that family members can watch. They only hear about it. Maybe a little video here and there."
Badie will be one of 23 members of the Owings Mills Track Club competing at the Junior Olympics, and members of other local teams will be present, too.
But it's a special homecoming for Badie, whose family moved to Randallstown after losing their home in Katrina. Shaun Badie said they were planning to move before the storm, but the destruction hastened their departure.
Badie will have a chance to leave his mark during his return, as he competes in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races.
"He has been steadily improving, and has a chance to get through several rounds and will hopefully make the finals," Owings Mills Track Club coach Vince Rollo said.
Shaun Badie said his son doesn't let his success go to his head.
"His friends compliment him a lot, but he's not cocky," Shaun Badie said. "He's fun to be around. He's playful but gets serious when it comes to sporting events."
Badie wasn't serious about track when he first got involved. Then, it was just something to do when football wasn't in season.
Now, he is on the brink of competing against some of the country's top competition, and he likes his chances.
"I'm very confident," he said.
This fall, the young sprinter will be a sixth-grader at Friends, where he'll continue to compete in football and track.
But this weekend will be more about his past than his future.
Tyler said he's "really excited" about going back to New Orleans, although he has embraced this area, most notably when it comes to football.
"The Saints are No. 1," Shaun Badie said. "But the Ravens are a close second."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun