Athletes transition to outdoor competitions

The women’s track & field team will begin outdoor competitions next Saturday.

Runners Megan Schneider, (left), Andrea Mathis and Danielle Britton jog at Geasey Field last month. | Jenny Kerrigan TTN
Runners Megan Schneider, (left), Andrea Mathis and Danielle Britton jog at Geasey Field last month. | Jenny Kerrigan TTN

Elvis Forde indicated that he doesn’t want to hear any more excuses.

With the struggles of the winter weather paired with limited indoor track facilities now behind them, Forde’s team now looks forward to everything the outdoor season will bring, including warmer weather and outdoor practices on a 400-meter track.

“We are outdoors [and] we have nothing that we can say is against us,” Forde, who is in his first season as women’s track & field coach, said. “This is our element and we have to get excited when the weather is nice. The sunshine seems to perk all of us up, and the warm weather does something for all our spirits.”

The hurdlers are one group, in particular, that will benefit from the move to the track from the Student Pavilion, where much of the team practices during the winter months. Senior Kiersten LaRoche, who runs the 60-meter hurdles when competing in the Pentathlon and Heptathlon, said running inside the pavilion on the turf surface made it difficult to reach maximum speed necessary for practice.

“It’s definitely a lot softer, so you’re losing some of the force that’s applied to the ground,” LaRoche said. “Not being able to put the blocks properly into the turf is another issue, just because you want to try to push off as hard as you can and you can’t really do that when you’re inside.”

Kaitlyn McSurdy, also a senior who runs the 400-meter hurdles, had a different approach regarding the indoor facility.

“The good thing that comes out of that is that if you’re used to running slower times on the turf, you kind of surprise yourself when you come outdoors,” McSurdy said. “Especially with this weather, it makes you really excited for the outdoor season.”

LaRoche also explained how the lack of an indoor track placed the team at a disadvantage when it came to practicing for competition. Now that the outdoor facilities are accessible, LaRoche said that evens out the playing field.

“It’s definitely a plus when you can have an actual track to practice on,” LaRoche said. “I think it will be a great addition [and] I think we will definitely get a lot faster just because it’s the same type of simulation. When we get outside its kind of a level playing field; we have a track, so does every other school. It definitely levels the playing field to where we can catch up and be consistent.”

Catching up is one challenge freshman hurdler Attallah Goodman is looking forward to most in the spring.

After suffering a stress fracture, Goodman was unable to participate during the indoor season, and will compete this spring for the first time in her Temple career.

“I’m just really excited. It’s an anxious feeling,” Goodman said. “It was a downer not being able to run my first season. [Forde] was able to uplift me, and so now I’m really excited for outdoor. Hopefully I’ve trained well for it.”

Although the cold weather could be behind them, the Owls will have different challenges to face during the upcoming season.

Warmer weather and humidity will test the team’s hydration and nutrition habits indefinitely, something Forde says he expects his team to manage on their own.

Along with hydration and nutrition, McSurdy said there is an aspect of training that is sometimes overlooked.

“I think first and foremost are sleep issues,” McSurdy said. “I think sleeping is one of the most important parts of the recovery process when it comes to our training on both the track and in the weight room.”

McSurdy also said it can be difficult to get an adequate amount of sleep because of the workload that comes with being a Division I athlete.

The team’s frequent travels result in the athletes having to miss class, which can sometimes put them behind with academic work if they don’t keep pace in the classroom.

“We miss a lot of classes on Thursday and Friday, so [the] teachers are moving exams to earlier dates [and] you’re taking them before the rest of your classmates,” McSurdy said. “You have a lot more to do, where all other students have five days of the week to do it, we only have three.”

Despite these struggles, Forde said he not only wants to see an improvement in his team’s performances, but also in the confidence it brings to the competitions.

“I want our kids to be a little bit more fiery,” Forde said. “I want them to walk with their heads high, their chests stuck out a little bit, and be confident in themselves.”

Tyler Device can be reached at

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