Track and field: Epitome of effort, loyalty and tradition

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Advocate-Messenger approached area high school spring sports coaches about writing a column for publication. This one from Casey County track and field coach Jon Vaughn is the third of 11 stories to appear in the paper each Tuesday through the end of May.

Effort, loyalty, tradition — every sport aspires to achieve these qualities. In my opinion, track and field is the epitome of these characteristics.

We have friends across the world because of track and field. It is because of these traits, track and field will continue to bring people from all walks of life together.

Track and field requires ultimate effort if you are going to “play.” There is not a bench. If you start the mile, and you are not having a good day, there is nothing you can do but run. We as coaches cannot pull you from the race and sub you for another runner. This is why track and field athletes, from the running events to the throws, must train so tough.

A more experienced coached taught us — he may have borrowed this — that the stopwatch does not care. This means that the stopwatch and the tape measure do not have any subjective opinions. This translates to both races and practice. The stopwatch and tape measure do not care if you are having a bad day. They do not care if you are rich, poor, or politically connected. Effort is all that counts.

A true track and field fan, will cheer for all athletes who give effort. At the end of the day, it is fun to win medals and break records. However, wearing a piece of medal around your neck may not mean that you trained any harder than the one who came in last.

Track and field screams and shouts loyalty. Athletes are loyal to the sport and their teams. I try emphasize to this to the athletes who I coach in both track and field and cross country. They go through a training process that hurts, this builds team camaraderie and love of the sport.

Sure, as a former athlete in track and field, I can tell you first hand it is a “love/hate” relationship with the tough training regimen. But at the end of the day, these athletes, coaches and fans love this sport.

I love taking a brand new athlete who is new to track and field and helping them achieve goals they thought were impossible. Also, I try to tell them to respect the athletes on the high school level who are hard workers and have achieved great things even if they do not have a good team. They may be from a small school or even a large school which does not put an emphasis on this sport. These athletes can still achieve greatness in individual events. I try to tell my athletes, to go up to them and tell them how great they are performing.

Track and field and tradition are almost synonymous. In the Olympics, to find track and field on the program and schedule, you must look for Athletics. From sprinting to endurance events, speed and endurance were needed to achieve goals in ancient times. The jumps and hurdles involved skills needed to hunt and survive. And the pole vault was directly needed to scale walls of forts and castles. Because of these basic skills, track and field now is a traditional sport which can help athletes develop skills for almost every other sport. It was interesting to learn that over 80 percent of the athletes who played in the Super Bowl had previously participated in high school track and field.

Those who participate in track and field love this sport. When I am old, drive me to a track meet every weekend and let me sit next to my comrades who participated in this sport in their glory days. We will talk about effort, loyalty, and tradition, and we will be young again.