Despite challenges, the American track team prepares for a new season.
The ball drops, the fireworks go off, and the calendar on the wall is now outdated. It’s the new year. For most people, this marks a new opportunity to set new goals, learn new things, stop procrastinating, and turn their lives around. Yet for others, the new year marks something even greater than this, something far greater than them or anyone they know. The new year is when the track season gets going again. The off-season has not been kind to most track and field members. Thanksgiving potlucks and winter dinners have added a few pounds of less-than-aerodynamic material. So what are they doing to get back in shape?
“ [Conditioning is] at least two hours after school,” says distance track member Anuraag Murugesan (10). “Either we go to Quarry Lakes, or we go [to the track].” When at the American track, the distance team can do any number of activities, from core exercises to sprints. When at Quarry Lakes, Murugesan says that the distance team usually runs up to eight miles—certainly enough to burn off the winter fat. However, the distance team is only one part of track and field. Many more students are currently conditioning for the track team, which does sprints and relays.
“We run two laps around the track for a warm-up and then we do stretches,” says track member Geoffrey Tang (10), describing a typical conditioning session. “After that, it depends… if we have a run day, we would just run the 200 meters [and other distances]…sometimes, we have weight room days, where we just go into the weight room and lift weights.”
Unfortunately, the lead up to the track season is not without its hurdles.
“At American, it’s kind of hard [to condition] because the track is sand and [like] a backyard. It’s hard to run on sand; you do your start, and then you slip because it’s sand that you can’t do anything on. Sand…it’s terrible. I hate it,” says Tang.
This sentiment is backed by other members of the team. When asked what the biggest struggle he faced on the team was, Murugesan said it was the track.
“It’s rainy season, so the track is always really muddy and gross. You would be lucky if your shins aren’t really dirty.”
The field part of the track and field team also struggles with the questionable condition of the facilities.
“[The fields at American are] horrible,” complains discus and shot put member Iman Tariq (10). “ I have twisted my ankle so many times just trying to run back and forth to get my shot and disk…[James Logan’s field and the Tak field] is way better. Our grass is really [long], there’s always bird poop, [and] there’s always some kind of groundhog hole.”
Even track coach Mr. Lindsay is less than thrilled with the situation at American. As a result of the less than ideal facilities here, the track team often has to go to Tak Fudenna Stadium to practice on the track there. Mr. Lindsay sees this as an encumbrance to the team.
“[With better facilities], we could have more people on the team, because it gets very difficult to practice it at Tak with three or four other schools there. So we have to limit the [number] of athletes we have. We can also get done with practice earlier because we wouldn’t have to travel and start later and Tak. But if we actually had adequate facilities, that would benefit all of the student athletes, because they would have it here. Even when we go to Tak, we have to share stuff. So, if we actually had our own facilities, it would be a lot more efficient for practice.”
While to an outside eye, a track and field team having a subpar track and field may seem like a major issue, the team has gotten used to it.
“That’s the attitude. What are you going to do?” says Murugesan. “You can’t go build a track. That costs money, and there’s no way we’re going to get a [better] track, because we’re so underfunded.”
Even Tariq, who practices in the unkempt fields and has had countless incidents involving the groundhog holes, simply states, “It’s something you gotta do. We have to do what we have to do. We have to make do with what we have.”
Lindsay also shares the attitude that not much can be done, but having learned that from first-hand experience, he is a lot less easygoing with the situation.
“Until the district decides that athletics is important, and that we should all have adequate facilities, nothing is going to happen, because they just keep saying, ‘we don’t have the money, we don’t have the money,’” Lindsay explains. “We’ve gone to the school board and we’ve made presentations and it just falls on ‘We don’t have the money.’ There’s no reason a school district that has five high school should [only] have one facility that’s decent.”
So despite the struggles, the team continues on, improving themselves as much as they can with the facilities provided. And to Mr. Lindsay this drive to just deal with it and try their best to improve is enough. As coach, he sees this as more important than the facilities, or even winning races.
“My main focus is not on how much we win. It’s how much we improve, how much the athletes can reach their potential. So if they work hard, they reach their potential, and they’re consistently getting [personal records] then doesn’t really matter if we’re winning the race or winning the meet. It’s just more about getting the student athletes to reach their potential.”
This year, Lindsay believes that goal is in reach.
“I think that this year we have a really good group of student athletes—not just good athletes, but good people,” he describes. “So I think it’s going to be a fun year; it’s going to be exciting to watch people get better.”