By: Andrew Preston
Trevecca’s 4-year-old track and field program is making progress even though there is no track at the university.
The 29 student athletes who make up the two track teams travel around Nashville to practice on available tracks when other teams aren’t using them, do their workouts on campus and generally don’t complain, said Austin Selby men and women’s cross country and track and field coach.
“We compete on the track, so it makes sense to practice on a track, but that is a luxury we just don’t have at this time,” said Selby. “We don’t use that as an excuse, ever. We don’t really think about it, we joke about it as a team, but it is never an excuse for under-performing. We still find ways to get done what needs to be done with what we have.”
In 2012, Trevecca launched a men’s and women’s track team as a way to build the number of sports teams on campus.
In order for the athletic department at Trevecca to continue the process of becoming a NCAA Div. II school, they needed more sports teams.
During the 2011-2012 academic school year Trevecca had nine intercollegiate sports. The following year, the 2012-2013 academic school year, TNU added cross country teams to meet the NCAA requirements.
According to athletic director, Mark Elliott, it was previous cross country coach Brad Peterson who concocted the dream of adding the spring sport of track and field for TNU. Cross country runners would compete in their season and have to wait nearly a full year for next season to begin.
Peterson argued he could get better cross country athletes if they knew Trevecca had a track program waiting for them in the spring. Peterson also claimed that he could get more athletes in general if there was a track program added.
“The goal for adding our track program was for the track experience to supplement the cross country experience so we could raise both programs,” said Trevecca Athletic Director Mark Elliott.
Track team members can frequently be found running around campus.
“Running around the campus is not necessarily a good fix. It’s not something that we like. Our campus is not flat. Obviously our campus is far from that. The surface is not exactly accommodating to avoiding injuries. It’s tough. I mean it’s really tough,” said Selby.
The teams also use a track about a mile from campus at Tennessee Preparatory School.
In the past if that track has been unavailable, the team has used Vanderbilt’s outdoor track facility. They have been to Brentwood High School and Brentwood Academy to use their tracks. The teams have even gone to Centennial Park to run.
“It’s hard but my runners always find a way to get done what they need to get done,” said Selby.
Not having a track does affect Selby’s ability to recruit.
“We have lost recruits–especially with the sprinters. Over the course of a year we probably have 20 to 30 per gender athletes interested in TNU, “ he said. “They come for a visit and after being very upfront and honest with them about our facilities, it is amazing how many of them we don’t hear back from.”
Plans for the future do not include the addition of a track on campus.
“We currently do not have any plans for a track as we don’t have the physical space,” said David Caldwell, executive vice president for finance and administration.
There’s no doubt in Selby’s mind that the athletes he does have on campus want to be at Trevecca.
“It makes us gritty. It shows that everyone involved wants it. They are here to compete and not just complain about what things look like on the surface, but they are going to do what it takes to be competitive,” he said. “Ultimately, those are the athletes we want.”