To the Editor,
High school sports—or just about any level of sport– receives a lot of support here in Westfield, and that is wonderful.
What’s very surprising and saddening—not to mention embarrassing– is that the city of Westfield does not have an outdoor track. During their season, boys and girls track athletes at Westfield High School practice at various places in town. There is no home track; instead, they have meets away at Agawam, Holyoke, Central and at both Chicopee high schools. These other schools have very nice outdoor tracks, with places for the high jump, long jump and various field events.
What should be noted is that Westfield High typically has successful track teams, despite the absence of its own home track. That is surely a testament to the students and their coaches! Many Westfield students qualify for the Western Mass meet at season’s end, as well as the state semi-finals and the state finals. Westfield High has had many athletes who have gone on to run track at the Division 1, 2 and 3 college levels. Some get scholarships, which helps fund their education. Westfield High track athletes represent their town proudly, even without appropriate facilities here in town.
An outdoor track in Westfield for its high school students would put our students on par with surrounding towns. Think of the other high schools in town who could also use it and perhaps develop their own track teams. An outdoor track in town could also be used by citizens for walking and other fitness—Agawam and Southwick’s tracks are a great resource for their citizens. Track is also an affordable sport for students: they don’t need expensive equipment—they just need a pair of sneakers or spikes.
Any student who has participated in track will tell you that the experience is very positive. Not only do students develop healthy fitness habits and discipline, but at the meets, the interaction between rival schools is typically very friendly. You will often see competitors shake hands or pat each other on the back after an event. The coaches who coach Boys and Girls Track at Westfield High are also outstanding. They work with the students to develop their potential—and they do this without a home track. It must be frustrating for the athletes and their coaches.
I hope the city, our School Committee, and the City Council consider installing a track for the high schools and the city. The results would benefit our young people and last a lifetime!