Covenant College officially announced the addition of a Men’s and Women’s track and field program beginning in the 2016-17 academic year. This is the first athletic program that has been added since 2008, and also the first addition for third year athletic director Kyle Taylor. This brings the total number of intercollegiate sports at Covenant to 15. Katie Stanford, who is also the current Men’s and Women’s cross country coach, will be the head coach for the track and field program. Coach Stanford is coming off of back-to-back USA South Men’s Cross-Country championships as well as being named the USA South Conference Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year
The success of the cross country team is only poised to grow with the addition of track and field. Since cross-country is a fall sport and track is a spring sport, most cross-country runners compete in track as well. With the addition of the new program, many high level cross country recruits will now consider Covenant a better prospect for their running careers. In the past, many cross country recruits have looked over Covenant simply because they couldn’t run track in the spring. Students who want a Christian school with a track team can now take a look at Covenant seriously. Thousands of students go to college each year to participate in Track and Field, and by adding this program, Covenant has added thousands of potential new students. Adding track and field gives Coach Stanford access to a whole new group of recruits therefore benefitting the cross country team and even Covenant as a school immeasurably.
According to Coach Stanford, adding the track and field team has been in the works for about two years now. The team will begin by competing with running events 400 meters and longer. Each year Coach Stanford wants to phase in more and more events as the program gets larger; starting with sprints and then moving on to field events. Currently there is no immediate plan for a track to be built on campus, but as the program grows, the college hopes to add one most likely around the Shadowlands field. Until then, the team will have practices at the tracks of Dade county and Chattanooga Christian School.
The USA South Athletic Conference, of which Covenant is a member, does not currently sponsor track & field as a sport. As a result, most of the competitions will be with other NCAA Division 3 schools in the surrounding areas and states. These schools include Birmingham Southern, Emory, and Sewanee.
The addition of track and field seems like a win-win for the college and the athletic program, but additions don’t come without costs. A new athletic team means a bigger athletic budget as well as even more athletes using the athletic training, weight, and workout rooms. These rooms are already very crowded at times. Adding another athletic team isn’t likely to help with overcrowding in the gym, but, the benefits to the school and athletic program seem to vastly outweigh the costs.
Overall, the addition of track & field seems to have been received by the vast majority of the Covenant community with excitement and positivity. The new program will be a great way to appeal to a new group of prospective students and will strengthen the existing cross country program. Besides, who doesn’t want another sport to beat Sewanee in?
If you have an interest in joining the track & field team next year, Coach Stanford encourages you to contact her for more information.