It’s in all of their heavy hearts, but is rarely spoken of.
A meeting called in the middle of finals week on Dec. 6, 2013 resulted in a drastic change that left the men’s track & field team in the fray with five other squads set to be stripped of Division I sponsorship. The women’s team, contrarily, was left without the other side of its foundation.
The aftermath – resented silence.
“What’s Temple without a track team?” junior sprinter Demeshia Davis said. “I didn’t think it was a real … I don’t think anyone is going to adjust to [the change]. We don’t talk about it just because it hurts, but no one else is talking about it either. No one sheds light on the fact that we still are missing the other half of who we are.”
Davis wasn’t the only one shocked by the announcement.
Senior distance runner Jenna Dubrow remembers the meeting in vivid detail. She said the teams were split up into two separate groups – those that would survive the cuts were informed of the news in McGonigle, while those set to be eliminated heard Athletic Director Kevin Clark’s announcement in the Student Pavilion.
“At first I didn’t know what to think,” Dubrow said. “We weren’t expecting that at all. Overwhelmed is a good way to describe it. I couldn’t imagine that happening to the men’s team, so obviously it’s just hard to wrap my head around it.”
In its first season as Temple’s sole track & field program, the women’s team is still trying to make sense of the matter.
Dubrow finished her cross country season alongside the men’s team, which no longer competes in a Division I capacity past the fall cross country schedule.
Dubrow said training alongside the men’s team helped push her further in workouts.
“We would all be out there on the trails together and doing workouts together,” Dubrow said. “You cheer them on, and they cheer you on, and it brought more of a competitive atmosphere.”
Along with fostering a competitive atmosphere, Demeshia Davis said the men’s team acted as a form of moral support when she was upset with her own performance.
“The boys were like our other coaches,” Davis said. “If I ran [poorly] in one of my races and I’m beating myself up about it, they [would] see that and come over to me [and say], ‘You still have your next race,’ and that is what [I] needed. They made us feel really important.”
Davis and Janneh said the members of the former men’s team who still remain at Temple traveled to Haverford on Dec. 6 to cheer on the women’s squad at the Jack Pyrah Invitational.
“We were all really close,” Janneh said. “They’re still our teammates and we still look at them as our [men’s] team. It was just taken away from them, it’s really sad. It hurt us to see that they had to go through something like that.”
With that said, Davis explained the importance of maintaining a sense of responsibility, knowing that her team survived for a reason.
“I think that because the opportunity was taken from somebody else, I feel like we obviously have to put that chip on our shoulder,” Davis said. “It could have been us, and I know that they [the men’s team] would be really bent out of shape if it had happened to us. I think that they would use it to motivate them and to do better in general.”
While she feels it is important to continue to work her best and look ahead, Davis said she will always feel remorse for her former teammates.
“Nothing is going to make up for it, that’s how I feel,” Davis said.
Tyler Device can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org