For the first time in 10 years, the Upper School (US) Athletic Department will offer track as a spring sport.
The team will practice every day after school at Danehy Park, Buckingham Field, or the Charles River, depending on the athletes’ training purposes, as each site will hold equipment for different events. Buses will transport equipment to practice and students to and from Danehy Park and meets, which will occur on Saturdays.
So that the Athletic Department can gauge student interest and the program’s overall viability, track will be considered a club sport for its first year. As such, it won’t have a varsity designation or recognition at the US Spring Athletic Assembly. If all goes well, Cross Country Head Coach O’Rourke said, track will become an official spring sport next year.
Regardless, students who choose track this spring will still compete in the Independent School League (ISL), attend the ISL Championship meet in May, and earn athletic credit. The team’s first informal scrimmage is scheduled for April 8 at Thayer Academy.
Coach O’Rourke will lead the group, alongside Assistant Coach Saleena Rashed, an outside hire and former runner at Northeastern. Coach Rasheed is also a level one and two USA Track and Field (USATF) certified head coach at the Metropolis Track Club in Brookline.
Though interest in the previous track team waned in 2007, around seven years after its start, now more students are interested in the sport than ever, Coach O’Rourke said. Currently, 40 students have signed up for the team.
“Kids have applied to BB&N and been disappointed that we don’t have a track team,” Coach O’Rourke added. “I know of two students who decided to go to another school because BB&N didn’t have track. Clearly track is needed at the school.”
Last spring, Coach O’Rourke spoke with Athletic Diretor Carolyn Polley about the team, and together they devised a plan that detailed a budget and practice locations, which the Athletic Review Committee—a collection of community members that oversees major changes to the Athletic Department—approved in early December.
Prior to this decision, BB&N joined St. Sebastian’s as the only schools in the ISL without a track team.
Coach O’Rourke explained that while in cross-country everyone runs the same 5-kilometer course, track has 13 different events including running, jumping, hurdles, throwing, and relays.
“It’s a great opportunity for BB&N students to get more involved in running since there are so many different events,” said Boys’ Varsity Cross Country (BVCC) member James Brunelli ’19, who plans to run track.
Also planning to participate in the spring, Girls’ Varsity Cross Country (GVCC) runner Isabella Kennedy ’18 said she looks forward to the sport drawing new kinds of athletes.
“I’m excited that BB&N is offering track this spring because it attracts all different types of people—whether you run, jump or throw—that wouldn’t normally play a sport together,” she said.
Coach O’Rourke said that all-star ISL and New England cross-country runners Isabella, Ben Morris ’18, and Mia Bawendi ’20 will do very well in track’s upcoming season. Whitney Janes ’20, a junior national class sprinter, should be one of the best sprinters in the ISL, he added.
“I want to show the rest of the ISL that we have serious running talent here, especially coming off of such a successful girls’ cross country season,” Coach O’Rourke said, referring to GVCC’s second place finish in the ISL Championship and third place finish in the New England Championship. “I’m confident that after everyone sees how well we do and how the number of students participating grows, track will become an official team.”