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By Martha Robles
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – This semester for the first time in 30 years, a track and field team is being established at Camden County College.

Alyssa Fario (left) and Emily Kotarsky stretch while preparing for practice. By Martha Robles, CCC Journalism Program

With their first meet scheduled for April 5 fast approaching, the team is still struggling to find more members for the men’s and women’s teams, so the teams can compete in more events. They have 15 male athletes and seven female athletes.

Recruitment efforts were showing promise; however, with grades coming in, many of the recruited athletes were deemed academically ineligible to compete. An even bigger issue for recruitment was the lack of marketing of the team. While some students heard about the team through email, Twitter posts and the athletic department’s website, some who were interested didn’t hear about the team in time to arrange their school and work schedules to accommodate participating in track and field.

The team doesn’t have a suitable track on which to practice. What once was a track has been made into what can be described as an asphalt paved road, which can be dangerous for the athletes. They are holding practices in the Papiano Gymnasium and this Saturday they will practice on Overbrook High School’s track.

“We’re hoping that by next season we secure a high school track to be able to practice at a real track more than just weekends,” said Coach Wayne Merkh.

Because of school schedules and other responsibilities, having a set time to practice has also posed a challenge. The team’s practice schedule is based on who can make it at what time.

“I think it’s more difficult to juggle sports in college because people have jobs and more responsibilities than in high school,” said team member Alyssa Fario.

While this is the re-established team’s first year, track and field isn’t a new sport at Camden County College. Thirty years ago the school had a male track and field team. However, because of lack of interest, the team disbanded and it wasn’t until this year that the athletic department took the idea of re-establishing a team into consideration, this time to include a men’s team and a women’s team.

“It’s a shame because (the team’s disbanding) happened during the birth of women’s sports” and thereby didn’t help pave the way for female athletes, Merkh said.

The idea of having both a men’s team and a women’s team has given women the opportunity to join a sport they love. This was the case for Fario, who is in her third year at CCC. She heard about the team through Merkh, who also coaches cross country, which she participates in.

“I’m really excited about running track again because I haven’t done the sport since high school,” Fario said.

Students interested in joining the team should contact the coach at wmerkh@camdencc.edu or 856-316-2801.

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