Greatness. Many people would use this word to describe the last decade of the Bellarmine track and field team. Bellarmine currently is on an 11 straight WCAL title run and has won their overall league for the past 10 years. They’ve also placed top 4 in CCS for ten straight years. But how does a no-cut sport like track accomplish so much excellence?
We sat down with head Track and Field coach, Patrick McCrystal, who specializes in coaching Bellarmine’s storied distance team, to discover what makes our Track and Field team so dominant. For our first question, we wanted to know if any momentum carried over from a successful season. Coach McCrystal responded, “There really isn’t any momentum heading into the new season. We practically have an 8-month offseason where we can’t practice together and all of the seniors from last year graduated,” he continued to talk about the seniors saying, “We had a really strong senior class last year, spread out over many of the events. We’re going to miss their leadership, especially since every year we get a lot of new kids who really don’t have any track experience. However, by the end of the season, some of those guys who showed up to practice every day and exerted maximum effort make it to the podium and finish in the top 4.”
The track and field team welcome all newcomers yet continue to rely on returning team members to help stay competitive in the new season. In addition to scoring points, returning athletes provide much-desired leadership and experience to pass onto the incoming squad. Another key factor to the team’s success is the coaches. “I really think it has come down to our exceptional coaches and our great track staff. They all do a marvelous job at getting everyone prepared, they individually work with athletes to help them with their technique and overall just make them better athletes.” Coach McCrystal highlighted the importance of not only the great coaching but the athletes’ willingness to work, “who want to work hard, they’re all committed to the track team, value improvement, and they all see the long game. They aren’t worried about one particular event or practice, they’re all focused on winning each event and capturing WCAL and CCS. Most importantly, however, they all come to practice wanting to improve and get better.”
Along with the success of the track team, we also wanted to know Mr. McCrystal’s daily responsibilities. He shared, “My responsibilities as the track coach are to deal with the business side of the track team, the travel to away meets, like scheduling buses to take us from Bellarmine to wherever we need to go and back. I maintain the roster of all the kids that participate, write out workouts and develop our distance runners, and I make sure each home track meet has enough officials.” We were also curious as to what inspired Mr. McCrystal to actually start coaching track, he said, “As for what inspired me to become the track coach, I think coaching is the best part of being a teacher here at Bellarmine. I was inspired to play sports in junior high, and it was a very valuable experience for me because it helped develop me into a better person through the morals and lessons athletics teaches us. I really want to play a role in other kids’ lives so that they can have a similar experience to mine. Any type of coach from soccer, to football, basketball, etc. they all help grow people as a whole.”
Along with the overall excellent team success, participating in Track and Field can imprint valuable life lessons that cannot be taught in the classroom or simply at home. “I think that track really instills values of self-reliance, self-confidence and the ability to accept failure and use it as an important stepping stone for growth. All of our athletes learn that the best results come from hard work and dedication, no one is simply born “good,” you have to work harder than everyone else and the end result is that you will win more.” Coach McCrystal also added, “An aspect of justice also comes from competing in track. We can’t rely on one particular team to get the job done, we need all of the different teams to buy-in, in order for this program to be successful. It starts with the individual athletes though, it’s up to them to work hard, to achieve their goals.”
Through the countless hours of practice and planning, it seems obvious as to why the Bellarmine Track & Field team has enjoyed such a lasting streak of winning. From personal experience, I can attest track and field is a great opportunity to participate in Bellarmine’s proud sports tradition. With committed athletes, Bellarmine track and field will continue to enjoy WCAL and CCS success.