For the first time since the early ‘90s, ucc’s track program is up and running again. Alan King, the new cross country and track coach and his team of 24 track members, are expressed how excited they are to spearhead the new program.
The track athletes, 15 of who are natives of Douglas County while the rest come from out of state, must use Sutherlin High School’s track as UCC’s is unavailable. UCC’s rubberized track, originally constructed in the 1970s, is unusable as it deteriorated due to no maintenance.
A deal has been set between UCC and Sutherlin High School for UCC track athletes to practice on the Sutherlin track two to three times a week for the next two years.
Sutherlin High was chosen over Roseburg High as more of UCC’s athletes live closer to Sutherlin, and Roseburg High is typically crowded with other practices such as cheer and soccer. After the two years, changes will have to be made. “There are no plans to continue that deal,” says Craig Jackson, athletics director here at UCC. “We’re exploring costs and finances on refurbishing the track sometime in the near future.”
Cross country athletes are using the fitness trail outside the track that takes them a few miles near the tennis courts and through the vineyards. The cross country bark trail is continually being added to. The cross country championships were even held here on campus last November.
Track meets, of which there are 11 in total per season, will be held at nearby colleges such as Linnfield in McMinnville. These meets can’t be held here or at Sutherlin High School since they lack the proper facilities. Jackson hopes to install these facilities, including a pole vault pit and a steeplechase among others, here on campus in the near future.
The student athletes in the track program seem ecstatic about being the first ones to participate in the program. “It’s very exciting,” says freshman Savannah Slay; “it’s only going to get better. It’s going to be a really groovy season.”
Laura Ekada who came from Alaska to participate in the program also talked about her excitement. She said the scholarships and the fact that most schools in Alaska didn’t have track was a large reason that she came to Oregon.
The amount of friends Ekada gained here has also made her happy.
Ashanti Potter says “Juggling everything, making time for everything can be hard,”. While dealing with building the track, balancing work, and school, athletics can be tough sometimes. Alan King is aided by assistant coach Renate Richardson who was a track athlete herself before taking up the coaching position.
The track program is off to a running start, and it isn’t the only program to return. Jackson also explained that the UCC baseball program that was discontinued in the 1980s is due to return this fall.