By JOE RICHEY
On behalf of my fellow cross country and track and field teammates I am informing the college community that the time is ripe to address the teams’ need for a facility. Georgetown track and field has developed into a consistent Mid-South Conference performer and is attracting increasingly talented athletes. The 2012 cross country team was the best in school history. Head coach Todd McDaniel “took a situation that had been mishandled by a coach who knew nothing about running and turned it around for the better,” says Chris Bartlett. When the college doesn’t respect the sport enough to provide an official venue for practice and competition, it is hard to dedicate time and effort to cultivate one’s talents. Building a track is a reasonable enterprise for the administration as well. Investing in a track contributes to long-term success, stability and value. It elevates the status of the program by improving the team, attracting student athletes and generating revenue. The track will also increase the college’s value and enrollment and fulfill its professed identity.
A track benefits student athletes and elevates the status of a track program in various ways, these being logistic, physiological and psychological. Logistically, borrowing the off-campus track of a local high school takes time to get to and from practice. Students must hassle with whom to carpool, rather than take a brief five– minute jog. Another hassle to hurdle is the local school’s use of the track. The team has to set practice times based on their convenience, and some days the track might be unavailable. These hassles erased from consciousness extinguish a significant amount of inconsistency and uncertainty.
The where and when of day-to-day practice becomes concrete and automatic, allowing athletes to concentrate their energy toward improving. Physiologically, to race well on a track, you must train on a track. The dynamic and rhythm are woven into muscle memory. From constant repetition and practice one knows every square inch of the track. Familiarity breeds confidence, to run faster farther, and longer than the day before. Psychologically, pride, passion, inspiration and motivation are intangibly born within student-athletes’ loins. Gone is the lackluster effort to train and improve trampolining the team across the crossroads separating ambiguous obscurity and honorable commitment. It can start a tradition for future generations of athletes to uphold, a visual footprint of the great ones who before us raced in the orange and black.
A track entices talented student athletes to consider Georgetown seriously. In my experience of looking at colleges, a pristine track was definitely a motivator to attend that college. With a pristine track I visualized myself training and racing for the program, whereas with a program without a track, there was vagueness, or haze as to the legitimacy of the program.
Building a track will fulfill the identity and mission of Georgetown College. At Freshman Orientation, speeches given by President Crouch and others prided the liberal arts education Georgetown provided. As in Georgetown College’s Live, Learn, Believe motto, “A liberal arts education strives to develop the whole person by fostering an understanding of a variety of disciplines and teaching the individual how to think with depth and flexibility.” A reflection in the aspect of athletics will reinforce Georgetown’s identity as a college of liberal arts, a symbol of supporting various disciplines.
Living up to its identity creates implications for prospective students other than athletes. Building a track and field facility could be a metaphor that shows prospective students that the college respects its minorities. Baseball, basketball and football are the most popular spectator sports in America. Despite track’s relative cultural unimportance, Georgetown (hypothetically) adequately provided resources that enabled its athletes to pursue their potential. This will leave the impression that Georgetown supports its minorities, those who have lesser known interests, regardless of endeavor and that each student’s personal educational pursuit and enhancement are important. Therefore it will bolster enrollment.
A temporary deficit is balanced by the long term value. Increased enrollment, home meets, loaning it to the community and hosting events provide sources of income. Building a track will add an asset increasing property value without increasing property taxes. Despite being a private institution, Georgetown is also a non-profit organization, because of which there are no property taxes. The Georgetown municipality can invest in the track if the college struggles to fund construction.
A track will contribute to the school’s long-term stability, success and growth. In achieving a recognizable and respectable reputation, it will market itself, generating revenue, attracting even more superior student athletes and performances will improve, creating an upward spiral of prosperity. Centre, Hanover, Transylvania and Bellarmine, a significant portion of Georgetown’s primary competitors all have or are in the process of building a track. I heard Georgetown’s tuition was down this year.