By Colleen Slattery
From 2011 to 2015, the University of Dallas track and field team has cycled through three different coaches. This lack of continuity within the program is a common problem for athletics at UD, where coaches come and go at an alarming rate. Matthew Barber, the new track and field head coach, says he wants to change that.
“I’m excited to establish some continuity in the program,” he said.
Barber knows firsthand what running track and field is like at UD. He was a runner here just two years ago. He has been involved with the program since 2010, and he has seen major changes in the team since then.
“[The team] was small, like a small family, which was nice” he said, describing his first few years as an athlete at the university. “But it felt a little like a club, not so much like a real sport.”
The numbers on the team have grown since then, due especially to the large number of athletes from the class of 2015 and the class of 2014. Now seniors and juniors, both of these classes have a significant number of athletes who have stayed with the track and field program and competed for the university year after year.
At the University of Dallas, upperclassman often quit sports due to heavy class loads, internships and outside commitments. This tendency to see athletics as a second-rate part of university life is another thorn in the side of the athletic department, and it contributes to the mediocrity of many of the teams at the university.
Barber says he recognizes the importance of both academics and athletics, and he is confident in his track and field team this year.
“Going into the season, we’ve grown to the point where it’s reasonable to expect to be able to compete at [the] conference [meet],” he said. In track and field, unlike cross country, it is difficult to make overall team goals, Barber said.
“Team goals break down into individual goals during track” he said. “It’s more about maximizing what individuals can do. Mainly, I’m trying to get people on the podium at the conference meet.”
Barber cited a few examples of people to watch out for during the upcoming 2015 season.
“The school record-holding women’s 4×400 meter relay is returning all four members [sophomore Katie McIntyre and seniors Amy Sullivan, Colleen Slattery and Danielle Pajak], Paulo Salazar, a returning sophomore thrower who took fourth in shot[put] and disc[us] and fifth in javelin at last year’s conference meet, and cross country team MVPs senior Clare Myers and junior Ryan McAnany in the 5K have a chance to do very well.”
Although Barber did a commendable job in his first season as cross country head coach, he says he prefers the atmosphere and excitement of track and field.
“Track is supposed to be a lot more fun. It’s faster than cross country,” he quipped. “The weather warms up, and people get excited about the sport.” Hopefully, the energy and enthusiasm Barber has for the sport will translate into a successful season for the track and field team. There is sure to be some very interesting news to report for this team in the months to