Ryan DeBarberie is pleased with the increase of resources for cross country, but he doesn’t like how it came to be.
“We get protein shakes and protein bars now,” the junior cross country runner said. “We also got a lot more gear than we have in the past couple years, and more shoes. The resources have definitely improved a lot, but [it’s] still a little bitter, though. It only improved because five teams got cut.”
Since last December’s announcement of athletic cuts, in which men’s indoor and outdoor track & field were included amongst the dismissed sports, the cross country program has received a multitude of extended resources.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have their own locker rooms in which they can change, store belongings, shower and do their laundry, runners said.
“It’s a lot nicer than what we had,” DeBarberie said. “I think it’s like an actual [NCAA Division I] sports team locker room. The old locker rooms were like high school lockers.”
DeBarberie’s teammate, redshirt-junior Alex Izewski, has similar feelings about the increase of resources and the new locker rooms.
“With the locker rooms, the gear and they’re redoing some facilities, so we’ve gotten more stuff,” Izewski said. “It’s kind of nice but we don’t have a track team, so it kind of sucks. Its bittersweet.”
Both athletes said they realize that there are other schools that offer superior facilities. Izewski transferred to Temple from the University of Florida during the 2012-13 academic year, and acknowledged the improved state of Florida’s cross country and track facilities compared to Temple’s, which include a nine-lane track complex with grandstand seating and an on-campus cross country course.
“The facilities at other schools are usually a lot better,” DeBarberie said.
First-year track & field head coach Elvis Forde said he feels the university won’t take anything else away from the men’s cross country program, and that the team could see a continued increase in resources.
“I would believe that they will be enhancing the men’s cross country in the future in terms of scholarships,” Forde said. “I’m not going to sit here and believe you can take anything else more away. I think if anything happens from here, it will have to be added.”
In June, Temple purchased the lot where William Penn High School currently sits. The property will be used for a new athletic complex for Temple’s men’s and women’s soccer programs, women’s track team and, potentially, the field hockey and lacrosse programs, Athletic Director Kevin Clark said.
The complex is anticipated to be opened in 2016.
“That was some of the information that was shared with me once I came here,” Forde said, referring to the William Penn property. “Some nice things help enhance what you want to do.
DeBarberie expressed mixed emotions about the idea of a new track facility near Main Campus.
“[It would be] kind of like a slap in the face a little bit, but I still think it’s good that the women are getting a new track,” DeBarberie said.
Moving forward, Forde and DeBarberie said they feel the program is heading in the right direction.
“[We are] definitely moving forward in the right direction because [cross country coach James] Snyder and [assistant distance coach Steve] Fuelling are both great coaches who know what they are doing,” DeBarberie said.
“We are off to a very good start,” Forde said. “Our girls, our cross country guys have bought into the program.”
Previously in his career, Forde served 13 years as the head coach at Austin Peay State where he started the school’s program.
“We started the program from zero and had some successes in terms of kids going to the NCAA event, a couple of championships and was always right around the top three or four teams in the conference,” Forde said.
With this experience, Forde believes Temple can become a notable program.
“Eventually, I would like to see this program be very successful and I think it’s going to take some commitment from the administration as well from our coaching staff,” Forde said. “I’m going to have the expectation that we start having some success and I’m going to hope that our administration realizes that in order to have success they might have to invest.”
Ed Lefurge can be reached at email@example.com and on twitter @Ed_LeFurge_III