By Melvin Keldo and Dylan Kaplan, The Whetstone

Imagine playing basketball without a court, soccer without goal nets, baseball without bats, and track and field without a track.

As spring athletes get ready, athletes from some teams say they are not getting what they want or what they need to play at the top of their game.

“I’ll be transferring to Rowan next year to get better facilities” said freshman decathlete Thomas Kidwell.

One of the many events that Kidwell participates in is the pole vault. He is the current record holder at Wesley (11.6 feet)

Breaking any record is hard to do, but Kidwell says doing so at Wesley College is harder, especially when he and three other vaulters only get to practice once a week – and have to travel almost an hour away to a place called “The Warehouse” in Newark to use a track.

“I think it sucks having to drive an hour away, and then having to then share with high schoolers,” Kidwell said. “We’re in college, we should have college facilities.”

Woman pole vault record holder (9.10 ft) and freshman Taylor Rae Danforth also dislikes the situation.

“I absolutely can’t stand it we only practice once a week, and are expected to win,” she said.

“It’s like getting a 5-page script and getting an hour and a half to memorize it, and then not seeing it for six days and expected to do it,” she said.

Not every pole-vaulter is unhappy. Patrick Schlosser, a vaulter and wide receiver on the football team, likes how people are able to bond as they travel to practice.

“I like traveling an hour to practice mainly because you get to know your teammates and coaches,” Schlosser said.

Track athletes also are not happy about when they are allowed to workout at Wesley West Gym.

Teams must sign up to use Wesley West for practice. Football has three sessions of lifting, four days a week. The other three days teams must compromise with each other to use the facility.

“We’ve been going to Wesley West as early as 6 a.m. for practice so we could use it,” Kidwell said. “It’s like war between teams because football can do whatever they want. You can’t go at a normal hour of the day.”

Freshman Javelin thrower Ryan Shilling also doesn’t like competing for practice time.

“I go to Malmberg to lift and football is in there and I go to Wesley West to lift and football is in there too,” he said. “I can’t escape it. How are teams expected to win when only one team gets everything it feels like?”

Shot put thrower Derek Mulholland says the lack of track facilities are a handicap.

“It greatly affects us,” Mulholland says. “Looking at our competition we have every year they actually have a better facility while we do not even have a facility.”

The Wesley track team practice indoors or nearby Central Middle School, Shutte Park, or an abandoned mall next to Buffalo Wild Wings on Bay Road.

Mulholland believes that not all sporting teams are being treated the same when comes to the stuff they need.

“We feel that every sporting team should be treated the same,” he said. “I know a sport like football has a bigger population than we do but not having a track is like expecting a flower to blossom without giving it water.”

Carlton Sheppard, who holds two sprinter records at Wesley, is used to the current conditions.

“I knew we didn’t have a track before I came to the school so I was prepared to train in different places,” he said.

Sheppard said the track the team runs on at Central Middle School is all dirt.

“I feel as though it’s good for distance runners, but as far as the sprinters, they need more of a track so they know how a track feels,” he said.

Matt Bundy, a wide receiver on the football team and a Division Three National Championship Qualifier and who holds three Wesley College Track records, has a problem with not having a track.

Matt Bundy

Matt Bundy

“It’s a disadvantage and is an inconvenience,” he said. “I mean all the teams we face have a track. I jump hurdles and it’s a big difference jumping on the gym floors than jumping on a track.”

Athletic Director and football coach Mike Drass said the school started the program in part because the school didn’t have to have a track.

“We saw an opportunity to offer a Track and Field program because you did not need a track to sponsor the sport,” he said. “We are excited about the success Coach Kimes and the team are having and Wesley is proud of the decision to sponsor the sport.”

This year alone track and field athletes have broken 31 school records.

“Picture if me and Thomas (Kidwell) and everyone else actually got to practice at a proper place picture what we could do,” Danforth said.

Drass said the school and the team are doing what they can with what they have.

“We are fortunate to have the Wesley West and the Pitt Center for indoor Track to work out in, and we travel between Caesar Rodney and Del State for Outdoor workouts,” he said. “We will always look for any new opportunities for our team but we are landlocked and have no space to have a track on campus.”

Drass said he has heard no complaints from athletes about the lack of facilities.

“The College really is proud to sponsor Track and Field and we knew when we started the program that there were many areas in town for our team to practice,” he said.
“That was always the plan and our student-athletes and coaches have always done a great job in preparation and it is paying off with the success the team is having this indoor season.”

Alec Laise a multi-event athlete for the track team, thinks having a track would benefit not only the track team itself, but also Wesley.

“I don’t know if people understand how hard we work every day,” he said. “The phrase ‘no days off’ really fits our team.”

Laise said it would be good for Wesley to hold meets on campus.

“That way, fellow classmates, parents, and locals could see how hard we work, and it might even bring in some revenue to Wesley.”