Track and field officially added as varsity sport

Track and field will make its debut as a varsity sport at Johnson State College for both men and women in the spring of 2016.
According to Head Athletic Director Jamey Ventura, the increased interest in the sport throughout the North Atlantic Conference has led to many of its schools adding track and field to their varsity offerings, and JSC is among those making the jump from the club level.

The move is being made with the goal of attracting more student athletes as well as keeping the ones already enrolled who desire track and field, specifically the cross country runners. Ventura called the addition “the logical next sport to add here” and noted that now there are enough schools competing in track and field in the NAC that both men’s and women’s events are sponsored.

It will be an uphill battle for both Ventura and Head Coach Shawn Woods as they begin to prepare for the inaugural season.

“Typically when adding a new sport, a year of recruitment precedes it so there will be enough athletes participating”, Woods said. But in this case, track and field was added to the docket in May of this year to allow Woods to use the new offering along with his recruitment of cross country runners, a sport he also coaches. Thus, Woods will be recruiting largely within JSC for now, and then targeting high school athletes who specialize in the sport in the coming years.

In addition, the team will face the challenge of not having an on-campus facility for practices and events. They will be using any space possible to train during the week including the gym, pool, and hallways inside SHAPE, as well as local trails.

The tentative plan for the weekends is to travel to Mount Mansfield Union High School in Jericho and use their track.

These factors could potentially put them at a disadvantage, but “the majority of schools in the NAC face the same issues and use local high schools for their season”, Ventura mentioned. He also added that there is a fundraising campaign to add a turf track and field to the campus, but that is still in the early stages.

Woods plans to offer every running, throwing, and jumping event for athletes to compete in, with the exception of the pole vault. This is due to the high level of danger that it involves, causing the need for a certified pole vault coach, which Woods currently is not. However, he is prepared to instruct all other events which athletes are interested in. Woods indicated he is optimistic about the college being able to compete in a variety events. “There is something in it for everyone,”he said.

Officially, training can begin the first day of the spring semester with events starting in April, weather permitting. It is possible the teams will attend an event in March farther south, much like the softball team.

For now, Woods is the sole coach of both teams, but he said the school plans to post an add for assistant before the season.