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‘It takes a village’

Moorestown High School reinstates winter track-and-field program

When Moorestown High School (MHS) parent Alison Simpson discovered that MHS didn’t have a winter track-and-field program, she and other parents and student-athletes worked with the Moorestown district to bring it back.

“My son (Peter) was in the cross country program last fall and it was towards the end of that program that I started asking … I assumed that we had a winter track program,” Simpson said. “It was at that time that some of the cross country parents told me, ‘No, we don’t. It’s really a shame. We should have one.’”

After speaking with parents of track students and Joseph Bollendorf, interim school superintendent, Simpson quickly realized how the need to bring the program back was necessary.

“A lot of people had wanted this, a lot of parents had had conversations over the last few years with the athletic director, with the board of education, and it just wasn’t able to happen,” she said. “ … This is something that’s been requested for a number of years now.”

Earlier this year student-athletes, parents and faculty of the district offered their support for reinstating a winter track-and-field program at the high school at a board of education meeting. According to a handout distributed at the meeting, per the new policy of the NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association), 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.

“Without a winter track program, we are left (at) a huge disadvantage,” said student Peter Simpson, in a previous edition of The Sun. “Many of us are competitive as athletes but cannot compete at all with the new NJSIAA unattached running policy.”

Mary Laufer, a junior at MHS, was one of several other students who spoke during the meeting, and she touched on how a winter track-and-field program serves other purposes besides keeping students in shape for spring sports.

“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 said. “I feel like winter track is a necessity for all runners, especially those who want to obtain scholarships or financial aid for colleges.”

Simpson described the support at the meeting as nothing short of amazing.

“It was really like, ‘It takes a village,’” she said. “We had Mr. Bollendorf, interim superintendent, who spoke very highly of the students at the conclusion of the board meeting, we had 10 students, five parents willing to speak their mind, and other people in the room just there wearing our Moorestown track-and-field T-shirts just representing the initiative.”

After 14 years the high school has officially reinstated the program, which now gives track athletes an opportunity to participate in the coveted winter sectionals and state meets. Simpson and other track parents are grateful for the MHS administration, board of education, student-athletes and community members who helped make this happen.

“Having this program puts us on an even playing field with all other public schools in our athletic conference (the Olympic Conference) because they all have this program,” Simpson said.

“It also allows an outlet for students that want to stay in shape over the winter that need a good mental outlet during the winter season, and it allows our athletes now to be better prepared for those that do run spring track … They’ll come in in much better shape and ready to go and compete in the spring season.”

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