Student-athletes, parents and faculty of the Moorestown district offered their support for reinstating a winter track-and-field program at the high school during the board of education’s meeting on Feb. 21.
“I was privileged enough to run in sectionals this winter, alongside several of my teammates, many of which are standing in this room,” said resident Peter Simpson during public comment.
“Without a winter track program, we are left (at) a huge disadvantage …” he added. “Many of us are competitive as athletes but cannot compete at all with the new NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) unattached running policy.”
According to a handout distributed at the meeting, per the new policy of the NJSIAA, student-athletes will no longer be able to participate in the coveted winter sectionals and state meets if their school does not have a winter track- -and-field program.
South Jersey public high schools that do have a winter track program include Cinnaminson, Audubon, Haddon Township and Pennsauken, among others.
“As many of you would be surprised to know, Moorestown High School is the only school in the Olympic Conference … That (doesn’t) have winter track,” Simpson explained. “We’d like to see a winter track team next year.”
Mary Laufer, a junior at Moorestown High, noted how having a winter track program not only helps keep students in shape for spring sports, but serves other purposes.
“This is also important during the winter months when seasonal depression is in full swing for many, and running with a team provides both a physical and mental outlet,” she noted.
“I feel like winter track is a necessity for all runners, especially those who want to obtain scholarships or financial aid for colleges.”
Senior Evan Schaffer shared what running with a team means to him, points that illustrate how a winter track program would benefit other students.
“Running for me personally has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to have a strong mental fortitude,” he said. “It has allowed me to rise above my own personal interests, to care for something greater than myself, whether it’s a cross-country team or a track team …
“What cross country really did for me and what track did for me was show me that I don’t always have to take the easy way out.”
Senior Colin Shand – who is also captain of both the cross-country and track- -and-field teams, talked about the disadvantages student-athletes face without a winter program.
“ … We have less times, races, training and just a hard time during the recruiting process than every other school,” he pointed out. “Therefore, a winter track program would significantly benefit us at MHS.”
Interim School Superintendent Joseph Bollendorf addressed the importance of bringing a winter track program back to the high school during the meeting, and thanked the crowd for voicing their concerns.
“I know that the board has things to think about,” he acknowledged. “It’s really more of an exercise of the budget, which is the reason why I know it came out in the first place a long time ago.”
“You’ve given everybody here tremendous things to think about …” Bollendorf added. “Thank you for all your words, and I know you’ve made a very big impression on all of us here tonight.”