Working Hard and Staying on Track

Coach Jake Reed. Photo retrieved from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/track/coaches/jreed?view=bio.

Willaim Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     On Oct. 5, the University of Lynchburg Men’s Track and Field Team returned to practice in the midst of the pandemic.

     As practices began, Head Coach Samuel Reed said, “Fortunately, for our sport the impact is minimal. Our athletes always train in smaller groups for workouts anyways based upon current fitness and ability level.  The changing dynamic is the ability for the whole team to go out for a normal or long run as one big unit. There are still opportunities to interact with everyone at the beginning and end of practices within the safety guidelines required. From a practice standpoint, there is not much of a change and the impact on us is minimal. Mentally and emotionally there is a lot more of a demand to help the students manage the drastic change in campus life and ensure we do not have major issues from a mental health standpoint. We definitely have to invest way more time having individual meetings to ensure our student-athletes stay on track and connected with the proper campus resources to ensure their success in every aspect of life.” 

     Coach Reed also said, “Our sport is about the development over their whole career as an athlete and the watch does not lie. It is always a big picture approach, and our athletes understand that ultimately if they want to achieve their long-term goals, the short-term training cannot be neglected. With cross country still taking place on a smaller scale at the Division I level and track meets taking place across the country on a professional level, it is easier for us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It also helps us to draw motivation to keep training at a level in anticipation for opportunities in the future. We also have the ability to create our own experiences this fall. Many have already time trialed on their own or in small pods. We have a few inter-squad track meets planned coming up this month and later in November. I am not trying to lure them on promises of a season that could be because we all know how uncertain these times are. We are trying to live in the moment and simply go after some big performances as a team.” 

     When it comes to practicing, Coach Reed’s players are always enthusiastic about practicing. In fact, William Fowler, a junior, said, “My favorite part about practices returning is getting to run and workout with the boys. We take running together and sticking with our groups very seriously to keep each other accountable as well as grow together as a team. When we first had to leave school back in March, it was very difficult to swallow the pill that the guys could not continue training together. But, eight other teammates and I made a plan to train in Flagstaff, Arizona over the summer. This was the best decision we could have made. Our training at elevation in Flagstaff has led to tremendous progress not only for the guys that took part, but other teammates who have been inspired by our progress. Our team is doing some special things, and this has been evident as practices have started back. We just have to keep rolling.”

     The University of Lynchburg Men’s Track and Field Team is also committed to staying on track with academics. Fowler, a student formerly in the Westover Honors College, said, “Well, I am not in Westover anymore. I actually dropped the program after the fall semester of my sophomore year. However, I am still big on academics! The schedule of the semester is not really different from the past, but taking classes online is quite rough sometimes. I honestly do not like it. I have a statistics class that is all online, a class that I believe should be in person due to the difficulty of the class. And I know that a lot of my teammates, other student-athletes, and other students are going through the same thing. Take advantage of office hours, make lists, take breaks so you do not burn out, and try to get outside or go do something with some friends. It has been hard with the new format, and none of us like it, but we can get through it. Try not to stay inside all day and go do something. Do not be scared! Just be safe.” 

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