Spring track and field serves as training ground for athletes in other sports

by Paige Heiden
The spring season brings a surge in the ranks of the track and field team as athletes from many sports join the squad to improve their speed, endurance and strength.
Varsity softball and swimming coach Jess Hulnik says that her athletes greatly benefit from competing in track and field during off seasons.
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   “Regardless of whether it is track and field, swimming, basketball, soccer, etc., playing multiple sports allows an athlete an opportunity to stay in shape without taxing the same muscle groups over and over again,” said Hulnik. “Athletes can still train at a high level, improve and maintain both aerobic endurance and muscular strength, as well as keep their competitive spirit. I find that multisport athletes are less injury-prone and compete at a higher level for a longer period of time.”
Coaches of fall and winter sports recognize the advantage of athletes taking part in track and field.
“As long as players push themselves, I see a difference when they come back to play. It teaches athletes to continue to be competitive while also keeping them in a good physical condition,” said girls varsity soccer coach Kevin Ewing.
Varsity football coach Jonathan Stack encourages his players to join track to maintain an edge on the football field.
“I feel they should be competing year round. The skills learned in track and field translate quite well to football. It’s an individual competition, whether you are running a race or throwing a shot, and these athletes come into football camp in the best shape,” said Stack.
Girls lacrosse coach Robert Rafferty agrees with the other coaches.
“Participating in track in the offseason is very beneficial and I highly encourage it to all of my athletes,” said Rafferty. “Having the opportunity to participate in track in either the winter or spring season allows athletes to continue their conditioning. Overall it is a great way for athletes to keep their conditioning, prepare for their upcoming main sport and receive great training for free.”
While some students are initially reluctant to commit to a sport that is not their top priority, they soon recognize the value of participating in track and field.
“Practicing as a sprinter keeps me in good shape and will help me improve my speed for the game. I want to be ready to go for the upcoming soccer season,” said freshman Caroline Babis, who was encouraged to join the track team by Ewing.
According to track and field head coach Jeffrey Koegel, some students eventually switch from other sports to track as their main athletic focus.
“I think of someone like Erin Pierce, ’12, who was a soccer player her whole life and then got into track in high school after two years of it in middle school,” said Koegel. “She turned into the best 800 and 1600 runner to ever come through the high school and is on a Division I track and field scholarship.”
Pierce currently attends Boston University.
Like Pierce, other athletes who play soccer develop a strong passion for track and field.
“It’s a great thing to do and keeps me healthy. I do it because I want to get better at soccer and stay in good shape. I want to push my limits,” said sophomore Jodie Cornwell.
Junior Quayree Bull considers both track and basketball to be his main sports but believes he’s better at track.
“I knew nothing about [track] and thought it was all running but when I saw all the cool events that’s when I really wanted to start participating,” said Bull. “It has gone from fun and just something to do to for fun and is important. I take practicing my events seriously.”