• Kelsi Swift, NP Wildcat Track Assistant Coach

Tough Conditions Yield Tough Athletes


North Park is an amazing place that is good for many things like hunting and fishing, hiking, enjoying majestic views, getting snowed in for weeks at a time, discovering what minus 60 degrees feels like in your lungs; I could go on and on. One thing North Park isn’t so great for is practicing track and field. Between the weather, and the lack of resources we have, it’s kind of amazing we even have a program. Our “track” is actually too short and made of dirt and we share it with the tumbleweeds and gophers. On top of that we only have access to it for the last two weeks of the season. It’s kind of like a fun obstacle course, look out for big rocks, snow drifts and gopher holes all while trying to run in the air that is freezing your face off.

North Park Track and Field athletes train mostly in the gym, and in the hallways of the school. We don’t have a million dollar facility that gets new equipment every year. We throw shot puts that have been thrown by our older brothers, sisters, cousins…parents even. We run in uniforms that have to last us years and warm ups that have been around since our head coach ran track (that’s a really, really long time ago). Another slight disadvantage we face is that we are in the middle of nowhere and all our tracks meets happen a long ways away from us. This is awesome when you’re considering the much better weather and not so awesome when you realize you have to leave at 4am to make it there in time. Track isn’t for the weak hearted.

Despite all this, we don’t just have a program, we have an incredible program. We’ve had plenty of successful track athletes in the past and even more recently we’ve gone on a streak that boasts more than a couple state champions, a team placing at state and more medals than I can list. We come home from every meet we attend with a bus load of medals and ribbons – some of the dorkier coaches call it “track swag”. It’s impressive to be successful at every meet we attend but it’s more impressive when you realize that track is a very unique sport in that you don’t compete against your 1A peers every week. We go to meets where we are competing against 4A and 5A schools, sometimes 1500 athletes are swarming around the track when we pull up.

If our kids are intimidated, it must fade away pretty fast. When they line up on the starting line it doesn’t matter how nice their uniform is, how big their school is, or what time they had to get up to make to the meet; all that matters is who is faster. And a lot of the time, it’s us. WE are faster, we throw farther, we jump longer and higher and WE take home the medals. Our times and distances put us at the top of 1A track and in May we take over half our team to State in Denver plus we compete against some of the best and we beat them too. It comes down to hard work. North Park athletes are working harder than anyone else and that’s why we win. Having an intense and knowledgeable head coach, with some awesome assistants might have something to do with it as well; but it’s mostly the hard work.

When things don’t come easy, and they rarely do up here in the mountains, the tougher more willing individuals rise to the top. This season is no different; we are showing up and making our presence known at every meet we attend. State is just around the corner and every chance to compete counts. Our next meet is April 15th in Glenwood and we plan to come home with plenty more medals and ribbons in tow! Life might be a little harder up here as a track athlete, but it’s only making us stronger. Go Cats!

**EDITORS NOTE**

I'm a new "track mom" and survived my rookie year last year- only watching two meets. After attending State (to watch my kiddo and his relay) I was blown away! Where have I been all these years. THIS is a tough sport and a true depiction of a true athlete. Borders, school classification, program funds... all of that is erased in this sport. It's the measure of heart as much as it is the talent of the track athlete and our North Park tracksters "got it going on"! I was so proud to see OUR relay team in the last heat, lining up with 3A-4A-5A schools and being competitive at a recent meet. This speaks greatly for our coaching staff through the whole NPHS Athletic program! Running in brutal cold, pulling pickup's up Main Street, sprinting the sledding hill, and doing pushups on the courthouse steps. Across the board our coaches adapt and our athletes prosper. Proud mom here-Proud Wildcat!

#NorthParkHighSchool #NorthParkWildcats #TrackSwag

©2013-2017 NP Bullpen Marketing/ Photography by Jamie J Brown Photography.

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