ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DENNIS BOLDT
Joe Kleinsasser’s recent depiction of track and field is inaccurate (Sideline Slants, May 23). Angry at first, I realized while attending the state track and field championships that he is simply misinformed and inexperienced with this sport.
It is true that we work with a limited pool of student athletes in our schools. We have five spring sports in which student-athletes may participate, and each did exceptionally well this year.
I would like to congratulate the baseball team for placing third at state, the softball team for another winning season, the tennis regional champions, and Phillip Thiessen who won the regional golf tournament.
The athletes, coaches, parents, and particularly our athletic director should be credited with creating balance within these programs.
All athletic programs depend on the number and quality of athletes. With Hillsboro being a relatively small school, each sport will go through cycles. So Kleinsasser’s prediction that a program may not achieve as much in the future as it did this season is as gutsy as betting the sun will set this evening.
He shouldn’t be surprised that track did so well this year-it has done well for many years. Athletes continue to break records and excel in individual and team competition.
Track is not complicated-hardly a three-ring circus. It is more like a theatrical production with much to offer everyone in the audience. Following track and field isn’t all that challenging, and more than just parents show up to watch.
We competed in eight regular-season track meets this year, four of them were at home. The booster club provides schedules for spring sports, just as they do for others. Kleinsasser-and anyone else- can pick one up in March in the high school office.
Also, it is not impossible to keep up with a track meet. A spectator just needs to get off his hands, get out of the stands, and enjoy the events of his choosing. There is truly something for everyone.
Come watch the power and quickness needed in shot put or javelin, or the combination of balance and speed when throwing the discus.
If you favor the jumps, come watch our local pole vaulter clear 14 feet-that’s four feet higher than a basketball goal, if that helps.
If endurance is your game, watch one of our exceptional distance runners use not only intestinal fortitude, but also their minds to win a distance race. Many times, the 1,600 meters is like a chess match completed in five minutes as a runner counters another’s moves.
If you prefer a shorter event-say, 11 seconds-come watch the explosiveness of the 100-meter dash.
If you can spare an additional four seconds, you can watch hurdlers cross the same distance, but while going over 10 hurdles.
If you prefer a team effort, come watch the precision, beauty and grace that a 4×100-meter relay team demonstrates as it takes the baton around the track in 43 seconds.
If you’re looking for crowds, turn off ESPN and come to Wichita State for the largest high school track and field meet in the nation-yes, the nation. Listen-no, feel-the noise that 15,000 people make when they clap in unison to help a pole vaulter or high jumper prepare for a record attempt.
Give our youth some credit. Many have chosen to compete in a sport in which there are no timeouts or substitutions, and which is filled with intrinsic rewards no other sport can offer.
In track and field, no one sits on the bench. Kleinsasser makes it sound like only the naturally gifted should consider this sport. He should meet Garrett Call, who has trained-not just dabbled-since he was a freshman to make himself one of the state’s top 800-meter runners.
I realize a sports columnist’s job is to offer opinions, but Kleinsasser speaks of what he does not know. His words do not paint a true picture for my future track athlete. Instead they tear down one sport for the benefit of another.
Athletes, parents and coaches don’t pit one program against another, creating an atmosphere of jealousy and animosity. Let us promote what has been, and can continue to be, a win-win situation for our youth.
Remember, the true measure of success is not state championships. Rather it is in the lessons learned as our young people compete in sports, whether individually or as a team.
Dennis Boldt is the head track coach at Hillsboro High School. He also is assistant varsity football coach and assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach.