Indoor Track as a Varsity Sport?

This article is written by Journalism student Cody Young

 

Indoor Track has been a club sport at U-32 for two years now. Since its establishment, participants have been pushing for Indoor Track to become a varsity sport at U-32. “As far as [Indoor Track] elevated to a varsity sport, there’s a lot of factors that go into [it],” said Derek Dunning, U-32’s Athletic Director.

 

The main concerns around moving the Indoor Track Club into the extracurricular program at U-32 surround the cost of coaching staff, facility, and bus fees. However, there are other reasons as well. Derek said, “We’re seeing an enrollment decline right now amongst our entire population. It’s tough to [say], ‘Oh, let’s add another sport’ [because] it might potentially take away from some other sports and [stunt its] numbers.” 

 

Nordic Skiing has been struggling with its numbers since most of the Nordic team swapped to Indoor Track at its creation. Tennessee Lamb—a student and athlete at U-32—said, “To have Indoor Track as a varsity sport, you need to cut a sport, and the sport to cut would clearly be Nordic Skiing.”

 

“With a club sport, we can’t win a state championship,” said Tennessee. “We can’t get certain privileges that varsity sports have in funding.” Indoor Track is entirely voluntary, so coaches can’t get paid and the team is not recognized in the winter sports banquet. “We can’t bring all the good work that we do home to the school,” said Tennessee.

 

U-32’s Ginger Long and Madison Beaudoin close behind racing in the Division II 600-meter Indoor Track & Field State Championship at the University of Vermont. (Paul Lamontagine/for The Free Press)

 

 

U-32’s Tennessee Lamb racing the 600-meter in an Indoor Track meet at Norwich University. (Taggart Schrader)

 

“We want to make sure that we’re not harming another program to start another program,” said Derek. “We did a survey last year about [winter sports] participation. We had a few say that they don’t currently do a winter sport [and] might consider doing Indoor, but it wasn’t many.” Currently, over 20 middle schoolers, 10 to 12 high schoolers, and 1 high school boy are doing Nordic Skiing this year.

 

Accompanying the declining Nordic ski team’s population, Derek said, “This year, we weren’t able to host any meets mainly [because of] the availability of snow. We were planning to try to host the middle school meet tomorrow [February 22nd], but we had to [move to] Craftsbury because we don’t have enough snow here.” Craftsbury makes snow, so the Nordic teams go there. However, currently, the cost of Indoor Track still surpasses that of the Nordic team going to Craftsbury because of the cost of getting indoor space at Norwich.

 

The indoor track cost at Norwich has made athletes on the team ponder the idea of the outdoor track at U-32 being made accessible for practice. The team has cleared paths through the snow and ice in the past, but since it’s manual, it requires a lot of effort. Derek said, “I think that’s a conversation I would have to bring up to our facilities department. The track is only a few years old, [and] we want to make sure that we’re [clearing the snow and ice] appropriately and not harming [the track].”

 

Other sports at U-32 such as Lacrosse and Football are combined with Montpelier. “We could have both the Montpelier and U-32 Nordic teams [as one team]. We’d be twice as good,” said Cavan Farrell, a student and the last boy on the Nordic Skiing team at U-32.

 

U-32’s Cavan Farrell racing in the Division II skate-skiing States meet at Craftsbury Outdoor Center. (@U32raiders)

 

“The Montpelier Nordic team is massive and they are competitive to win states,” said Tennessee. As it is, the U-32 Nordic team doesn’t have much of a chance at states comparably; therefore, the Nordic team combining with the Montpelier team would be a win-win-win situation for the U-32 Indoor Track team, Nordic team, and the Montpelier Nordic team. Indoor Track would be elevated to an official varsity sport and the U-32 combined Montpelier Nordic could dominate the skiing scene at states and other races.

 

Along with the downside of shafting other sports in place of Indoor Track, as a varsity sport, all the U-32 sports rules would apply. If you are marked absent or tardy, you won’t be able to participate in practice. This track season, U-32 has begun to take the rule more seriously. Ben Warfield, a student and athlete at U-32, said, “I was marked absent in TA yesterday [February 19th], and I wouldn’t be able to do the workout up Brazier, so it would have been bad.” As a club sport, U-32 sports rules are more lenient, which can be seen through various lenses of whether Indoor Track as a varsity sport over a club sport would be worthwhile.

 

“We look at the data every year [and] we look at the sports offerings we have every year and make sure that we’re meeting the needs of our kids,” said Derek. “We’ll continue to look at that and see if [there is a] change in our winter sports offerings [and] we’ll go from there.” As of now, there are no set-in-stone plans for Indoor Track becoming a varsity sport; however, Derek said, “Athletic directors [in Vermont] get together every year for our convention [in March], and I think that’s going to be one of the topics that [are] talked about.”

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