Spring Track and Field Offers Athletes Welcoming Environment
Coming into high school, many students search for something to be a part of, whether it is a sport, club, or other after school activities. Most are unsure about what they want so they try a variety of things and often discover a new skill or passion. At Nutley High School, track and field is one of the most popular and fun sports among all grade levels because of its environment and social offerings. Juniors Maria Marucci and Anthony DePersio share the experiences that track has brought them. Coach Gerald Ryan speaks about how track can enhance students’ lives.
A track and field meet has events including sprinting, throwing, long distance running, pole vault, high jump, triple jump, and hurdle jumps. Students can be a part of several or just one of these events. "Preparing for a meet involves a lot of paperwork and moving pieces to make sure all athletes are entered in events that they have trained for,” Coach Ryan explains. He continues, “as coaches, we have to make sure that the athletes are mentally and physically ready to compete.”
There are two different kinds of meets: a dual meet, which consists of only one or two schools competing, or a more important meet, where there are several towns that enter to win medals. These crucial meets will usually last six to seven hours while athletes spend only minutes doing their actual category. In the meantime, when they are not performing the athletes, “relax, hangout, sleep, or cheer on their teammates,” Marucci, who participates in the javelin events, explains.. During his free time between events, DePersio says that, “it is a great time to bond further with the team and support fellow teammates.”
DePersio runs in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x1, and 4x2 relays and while Marucci has run in the past, she is currently throwing javelin. Marucci has been struggling this spring season because of a shoulder injury from throwing. She explains, “that is really difficult for me, but just being there to support my team makes me forget about it.” Although Marucci has been out for several weeks, she is on the road to recovery.
Meets can last for hours and if someone has one of the last events they would want to be well-rested and ready to go. In order to prepare for a stressful meet Marucci says that, “the best thing to do is to not tire yourself out; get sleep, drink a lot of water, and pack enough snacks.” DePersio advises, “being strong mentally can propel you further in this sport.”
As juniors, who both have been participating since their freshmen year, they feel as though they are leaders who help out their younger teammates. They understand what their teammates are going through because they were once in similar positions. These team leaders help Coach Ryan during a demanding track meet. Coach Ryan says, “I have great student leaders on the team that help insure that everyone is where they need to be when the meet starts.”
Track offers student athletes a chance to bond with people that they are unfamiliar with and create new friendships. “Everyone on the track team is so supporting and can make you feel good on your worst days,” Marucci expresses.
Track offers a unique environment to students and they truly enjoy the people they are surrounded by and the support that is given to them. DePersio adds, “I have numerous friendships from the team that I know will last me a lifetime.” Although these athletes describe track meets as a very stressful time, their teammates make it much better and more relaxing for them.