Running track and field at Chapman can sometimes feel like wrestling with one hand tied behind your back, say some team members.
Chapman’s track and field team travels 13 miles each way to practice on a full length running track. Some team members have to pay for their own uniforms.
While the team is able to use a jump pit, a full track, and high jump mat at a field off campus, not having these resources on campus has prevented them from hosting meets at Chapman.
“A lot of people don’t even know we have a track team. Part of that is because we don’t have a real track,” said team member Armond Gray, a sophomore kinesiology major.
Student and faculty turnout at track events suffers as a result, with only a handful of people showing up for the meets, Gray said.
“It would be nice to have a standardized track here,” said Montana Jelden, a sophomore health sciences major who is on the cross-country team. The Chapman track is more than the regulation size of 400 meters long “and it’s more square, which makes it a little bit more difficult to do workouts.”
The track and field team holds practice on Wilson Field three days a week, but its two-lane track is not ideal for a team with more than 30 members, according to Gray.
When unable to practice on Chapman’s campus, the track and field team usually practices at a nearby high school. But facilities there are currently under renovation, so the team now travels to Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach.
“Not having your own facility can be frustrating at times,” Gray said. “We’ve had to improvise a lot more and figure out what we could do in substitution for things.”
The team’s lack of funding is common for Division III athletic programs, which usually emphasize academics as opposed to sports, according to the NCAA.
Chapman’s Director of Athletics Terry Boesel would not specify how much money the team receives from the university, but said the amount increased this year because of the team’s off-campus needs. The cost of renting out Gold West Community College and the vans that transport the team is high portion of the budget, but fundraisers have picked up the slack.
“It’s normal for universities that are in a metropolitan or residential area to have to use facilities off campus,” said DeAndra’e Woods, the head coach.
With at least five school records broken and more than 10 personal bests achieved this spring, Chapman’s track and field team is taking strides to grow as a program, said Woods.
The team’s most successful form of fundraising is a “phone-a-thon,” which consisted of each team member reaching out to fifteen people for donations. The athletes have raised around $10,000 since January, according to Gray. The team is also planning a fundraiser luncheon for their family members.
“The [money] goes towards practice materials. We had to buy our medicine balls, poles, wickets, resistance bands, tennis balls and lacrosse balls, batons, shot puts and disks,” Gray said.
Fundraising events must be approved by the athletics department.
At Chapman, a sports team’s budget is determined by the number of participating athletes, the type of equipment needed, as well as the on and off campus needs, Boesel said.
The budget is “a fluid number depending on their needs,” Boesel said.
“Our team is growing. As we bring in more people and continue fundraising, then I think we’ll get more support from the athletic department,” Gray said.
There are no plans for establishing a standardized track on Wilson Field, according to Boesel.