Girls track initiates squads, strives to eliminate cliques

The girls’ track team has kicked off the season with a great start, winning the first track meet of the year. On March 1, the team beat Buffalo Grove and Vernon Hills High School during the indoor meet at Buffalo Grove High School.

“We won, I was so pumped,” Bridget Huston ’16, girls’ track captain said. “It was a good start to our year.”

The four new senior captains were chosen the day after the first meet. Captains are chosen as a combination of team and coach preferences.

“We let the girls vote, and I let them know that their votes weigh heavily on the decisions, but the coaches as staff make all final decisions,” head coach Emma Degen said.

The girls, though excited to be elected captain of the team they have been a part of for four years, feel like they have a lot of live up to captain Janine Fajardo ’16 said. All four captains agree that they are very proud of their new positions though they have lots of expectations on them.

“We have to encourage everyone,” captain Jessica Philipp ’16 said. “We have to make sure everyone knows what’s going on and feels included.”

Track is a no-cut sport, so the team gets to be fairly large. Within the overall team, many groups of friends tend to separate themselves.

“I’m not sure I’d label them as cliques,” captain Amy Atkinson ’16 said. “They’re just certain social groups that you tend to converse with more.”

In an effort to remove these distinct groups from the team, Degen and her assistant coaches have decided to implement the new idea of squads. Each captain would have an assigned group of random girls from various events, levels, and ages. The squads will have friendly competitions throughout the year to keep everybody in communication with each other.

“We like to do a lot of team building stuff to make sure they all know each other,” Degen said. “One of big emphasis is making them feel like they’re one team instead of multiple groups.”

During practices and meets, it is common for each category of participants to be both physically and socially separated. Long distance runners practice and converse with other long distance runners while the throwers are somewhere else, for example. The captains are hoping that squads will help bridge the gap between groups.

“It will make it seem more like a family I think,” Huston said. “It’s hard to apply that feeling to a big team, but I think the squads will help.”

In the end, despite the different groups, all of them are part of the same team. Their team goal for the season is to win conference- something that Degen really feels like they can accomplish.

“I think that if we all want it and we’re all willing to work for it [winning conference] is very achievable,” Fajardo said.

Phillip agrees and adds that they are physically ready for it, but now they have to be mentally ready for it. All the captains agree that they just have to continue training hard as a team this year to reach their goal.

“One team, one dream,” Atkinson said.