When looking at the results the track and field athletes are putting forth, it’s easy to think that the athletes come from a highly successful and well facilitated school. Although their success is remarkable, what most outsiders don’t realize is the minimal athletic facilities that the school has to offer.
Although the team is provided with a knowledgeable coaching staff and talented athletes, its lack of facilities and equipment is a hindrance neither one of those things can fix.
The indoor track season is quickly approaching along with the winter weather Ohio brings to Canton. While most schools will begin their training inside, this is an advantage Pioneer athletes won’t have.
Junior cross country and track runner Maddie Schuler understands the added stress this brings to the athletes.
“A lot of schools take for granted the luxury of having an indoor track,” Schuler said. “It would be so nice to be able to go on a run and not have to bundle up and freeze the entire run.”
The discomfort that comes with running in the cold is the least of the athletes’ concerns, however. Due to the lack of an indoor track, athletes are forced to find other ways to get in their workouts.
“Runners will run on the treadmill for long amounts of time, which is known for being hard on your body, and so if we had an indoor track it would help prevent injuries,” Schuler said.
Other injuries often begin to happen when the athletes are forced to run on the snow-covered streets, causing their bodies to tense up in order not to slip on the ice.
On top of preparing for meets and studying for school, the athletes have to find somewhere to work out.
“Last year some of us tried to go to Kent to work out because the streets were covered in ice,” Schuler said. “But once we got there, the coaches from there made us leave because they didn’t want their competition training in there, so we had to try and find somewhere else to go.”
Head track and field coach Mark McClure understands the frustrations that come with trying to plan.
“The hard thing for us is planning while not knowing what the weather is going to be like,” McClure said. “From a coaching perspective, it’s really hard to come up with a plan for a jumper or a thrower or 400 runner and then to stick to that plan.”
With no indoor track, the coaches have to make do with what they have. For McClure, it means finding ways for his athletes to be able to get in the workouts they need, whether that means using the lobby of Osborne or finding an off-campus location.
“I’m currently trying to find an old warehouse that gives the jumpers a place to jump and the hurdlers a place to hurdle,” McClure said.
Having to find different facilities to use affects not just the athletes but the university’s athletic budget as well.
“We run at the Dome in Jackson but you have to have a membership in order to use it, so the school has to pay for that,” Schuler said. “If they didn’t have to use money for that, we could be using it for our track trips and running budget.”
But one of the team’s biggest concerns— especially from the coaching staff— is the affect it has on potential incoming athletes. Many high school track and field athletes are drawn to the success the runners have had here but aren’t impressed by the facilities.
[pullquote]“There’s no doubt it [lack of facilities] affects us performance wise, but I think the biggest way it affects us is attracting students to come here for training,” McClure said. “We won’t get some athletes to come look at us just because we can’t offer them the facilities to train in.”[/pullquote]
Sophomore track and field thrower Duke Taylor has a more positive outlook when dealing with the lack of having a place for him to throw inside.
“I think it helps me in more ways than it hurts me,” Taylor said. “Being outside when it’s cold allows me to throw outdoor events longer than if we went indoors and could only do indoor events. I also think it makes me tougher.”
Many of the track and field athletes are affected by this issue, and now that the school’s athletic department is Division II, they will be competing against schools that are bigger and coming from more adequate facilities than what Pioneer athletes have.
Although this could affect the performance and success of the team, Schuler is confident in her team’s training.
“Malone has always had to run against schools that had new equipment and better facilities but we have always stepped up to the competition,” Schuler said.
Although Schuler knows her team will rise to the occasion, it would still be more beneficial overall to have an indoor track.
“Having an indoor track would definitely be less stressful on athletes and enhance their performance as a whole,” Schuler said.
The track and field team will open its season this Friday, December 6 at the Kent State Golden Flash hosted by Kent State and the Laker Early Bird hosted by Grand Valley State.
Karli Kadlecek is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.