TROY — With the grandeur of a bright red ribbon, a giant pair of scissors and a crowd of onlookers, Troy Area School District’s new track facility was officially opened on Monday night.
Trojan athletes, faculty, parents and community members gathered at the approximately $1.2 million six-lane track located on the hill behind Troy Intermediate School at 5:30 p.m. for opening festivities that included the raising of the American flag, speeches, the playing of Troy’s Alma Mater by the Troy Trojan Marching Band and attendees completing a first official lap around the facility.
The track has been a brainchild of Troy for more than a decade and an ongoing project for more than two years and while it is now complete, work will continue on a community funded concession stand/restroom building as well as landscaping.
Troy Junior/Senior High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Dan Brenner stated that the track will serve as a “legacy” to future generations of Trojans.
Brenner said that while he has only been a member of the Troy area for going on three years, he has recognized the community as one that is welcoming, that cares about its students and whose students are respectful of others and who care about making good decisions.
Reaching into the legacies of Troy’s history, Brenner read from a Trojan yearbook from 100 years ago, detailing a rich history of a successful track program and a community that even then supported it’s youth through athletics.
“They cared about track in a very similar way that we do,” said Brenner. “One hundred years later many of the people that experienced this and (wrote) this have long passed on but their legacy lives on and this is going to be a similar legacy for our community.”
Brenner explained that by investing in the track the community has invested into the wellbeing of its students as he has witnessed students involved in athletics perform better in other areas.
“We show that we care for our athletics and we show that this is an important part of what we do,” he said. “As an assistant principal and an athletic director I have the unique opportunity to see the bond between athletics and student success. Students that are involved in athletics often do much better in discipline and in academics...they’re not in trouble and they’re succeeding. So by supporting athletics in this community we’re supporting out students in the best way possible — we’re creating people that display integrity, that show grit and that are willing to persevere and those lessons go on generation to generation.”
Troy track coach Ron Bellinger stated that having a track is “going to be huge” for injury prevention for athletes as they will no longer be practicing on asphalt.
“It’s surreal,” Bellinger said. “I can’t wait to be able to practice on it, I can’t wait to hold my first meet, have the trials and tribulations of that. More than the meets though, it’s going to be able to save our kids with injuries quite a bit.’
Bellinger told that previously runners have practiced by running laps around the intermediate school, which is trying to their bodies due to not only the surface but the 90 degree turns and that other athletes such as hurdlers and jumpers were unable to practice with real equipment, spacing or at all outside of meets.
Bellinger said that he is hopeful that having a track to call their own will help build the track program, which he said currently has many good athletes.
After the track’s grand opening ribbon was cut by Bellinger, former track coach Pat Rogers and Troy Superintendent Amy Martell the evening was closed by the crowd initiating the track with a first official lap around the lanes.