Sports

Eastern’s NCAA Track and Field Program Takes Off

     To some Eastern students, it is news to find out that we have a Track and Field team. Yet to the athletes, practices at Valley Forge, workouts in the gym and traveling for meets is very much a part of their daily reality. For those of you who may be confused by the fact that Eastern does not actually have a track, it is still very possible to have a team, and we do. The team, although very new and very young, has a very strong and present talent. So it’s no surprise that they have high expectations for this season, which, in the words of Head Coach Mike Wilson, are: “We have no interest in being a good team; we want to be great.”

     Although the Track and Field team may be news to some, the formation of this team actually has quite a few years of history. According to Wilson, the team started out as a club team in 2011. After gaining interest, the team joined the NCAA program in the summer of 2015, which made last school year (2015-16) its first full outdoor season. However, this year brings even more excitement: this is the “first full indoor track and field season and our first team that has been fully recruited,” Wilson shares.

     With this new season, the team has a lot to offer. I had the chance to speak with two of the team’s 41 first-year students to get a better sense of exactly what Eastern’s Track and Field team is like and what to expect from them in the next couple of months.

     Bryton Henry, distance runner, informs me that part of what makes the team so strong is the coaching. The coaches are supportive and prepared to work with their team to push them to success. Henry feels that Coach Mike is “definitely devoted to his job as a coach.” In reference to Coach Jack, Henry says, “He has the most energy, and he’s not afraid to show it.” The coaching staff has the experience and the dedication to truly allow this team to grow and perform well. Jimae Smith-Hobbs, sprinter, mentions, “And they’re [the coaches] very patient with us. They know us outside the track, and it shows on the track.”

     This “energy,” as Henry uses to refer to Coach Jack, seems to be a very common characteristic of the team as a whole, which has given life and enthusiasm to all of the hours of hard work these athletes put on the track. Smith-Hobbs puts this energy to words as she describes the team as a “functioning lunatic”; she further explains the team as “ that loud, obnoxious family that no one wants anywhere.” However, the high energy seems to work in their favor because the team has a lot to look forward to as they continue to grow and thrive in the years to come.

     With coaches who care for their athletes on and off the track and athletes who are dedicated to their events and their teammates, the Track team may have been one of Eastern’s best-kept secrets, but the news is out, and the silence will not last much longer. This team’s talent and spirit is gaining momentum and will not be stopped any time soon.

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