Recently, Marist College has considered updating the campus wide master plan in order to accommodate the growing needs of the Marist population as well as one sports program in particular. The changes made to the plan are expected to include the construction of new housing in order to accommodate the growing population here at Marist, as the number of incoming freshman seems to multiply every year. In addition, the updated plan would include the building of a 400 meter track complex, addressing the obvious needs of the track and field program. For many years, Marist’s track and field program has managed to function and compete at a Division I level though an actual track or running complex cannot be found on Marist College’s beautiful campus. The updates made to the master plan have yet to be confirmed and are far from definite, but the coaches and members of the track and field program are certainly hoping for the best in regards to the possible construction.
“A new track has potential to elevate our program on many levels. First, from a recruiting standpoint, we would have something to show to our recruits. We currently have no facilities, so that makes recruiting a challenge. From a day-to-day practice standpoint, our athletes spend a fair amount of time in athletic department vans, shuttling to our off-campus training venues. This would be reduced with an on-campus facility. Lastly, we would be able to field a more broad-based program. We currently have few to no field-event competitors, due to a lack of practice space for those events,” said Pete Colaizzo, head coach of Marist’s Track and Field team.
Currently, the team spends a great deal of time traveling to various facilities throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley. On certain days of the week the team piles into vans and travels to Vassar College or Spackenkill High School to practice on their tracks. On other days the team spends their practice lifting or at the main gym in the James J. McCann Recreation Center here on Marist’s campus. The inconvenience of not having a track includes the time and money spent transporting the athletes to various facilities. Additionally, it is a definite disadvantage in the process of recruiting new and incoming athletes to join Marist’s track program.
“Coming into my freshman year, I heard that the newly renovated McCann Center would no longer include an indoor track, and adding to the fact that there was no outdoor track either, I had some initial concerns,” said Kyle Hannafin, a junior on Marist’s track team. “Coach Pete Colaizzo ensured that the program would continue to be successful despite the fact that there is no track on campus.”
A track on Marist College’s campus would provide countless advantages to the existing track and field program. Currently, the appeal of Marist’s track and field program is greatly diminished due to the absence of a track complex or facility. The team, which already has success could possibly elevate to an entirely new level of success once the nuisance of not having its own track is eliminated.
“It would definitely cut down travel time for us and give us more opportunity to have quality workouts instead of rushing to get back to campus for class,” said Katie McEvoy, a member of Marist’s women’s track team. “It would definitely make us a more competitive team.”
Ken Walshak, team captain and member of the men’s track team, reiterates the problematic themes caused by Marist’s lack of a track facility saying, “It starts with recruiting. When you don’t have a track, recruits looking at the school tend to shy away. This is a problem because we are losing talent due to lack of facilities.”
In regards to those already on the team, Walshak continues, “We spend a great deal of time traveling to facilities in order to practice. With our own track we would save travel time, resulting in more time spent in the weight room, training room, and library.”
As a Division I program, Marist College is among the few schools that have a competitive track and field team, yet lack the actual track and facilities generally necessary to compete. Regardless of the lack of facilities, Marist’s track team still manages to be a competitive program within their conference, but there is room for improvement.
“With a track, field recruits would be more inclined to come here which results in more points at MAAC’s and hopefully some championships,” says Ken Walshak.
The updated plan discusses the possibility of constructing the track at the athletic fields at the North end of campus, an area which is rarely used by existing sports teams. The construction of a track would certainly benefit Marist as a whole, as it would allow for the college to host meets and competitions amongst schools.
While a track on campus would undoubtedly benefit the track and field program, the addition to campus would also provide a useful facility for all members of the Marist community to enjoy. As Coach Pete Colaizzo points out, “From employees wanting to go for a walk on their lunch break, to other athletes looking to get a quality running workout. It would really be a plus for everyone.”