KSC Track and Field came back strong after losing their head coach

The track and field team returned on January 8 after an almost month-long hiatus due to winter break. The Owls came out strong with impressive performances in their first meet which was held at the University of Southern Maine. The Owls also faced off at the Tufts Invitational on January 15 and competed in the University of Southern Maine Open on January 23. 

The team’s success comes after their head coach, Paige Mills, stepped down at the end of the Fall 2021 semester. The loss of their head coach does not seem to be stopping these Owls from being successful this season. To fill the place of the former coach, four assistant coaches and Keene State Alumni are attempting to combine forces and get the job done for the athletes. Volunteer Assistant Coach Dave Westover explained what jobs Mills was responsible for that the assistants are now attempting to complete on their own.

“Coach Mills being a head coach is responsible for, lack of a better word, ‘A-Z.’ Not just workouts but all the behind-the-scenes stuff and with COVID, making sure all the athletes get tested when they’re supposed to. To make sure all the documentation is in order, if another school requires verification of all the athletes being tested, ordering meals on trips, just a lot of behind-the-scenes things that a head coach would be responsible for,” said Westover.

Assistant Coach Shannon Summers, who specializes in working with the sprinters, explained that the assistant coaches had to “step up and take on a little bit more responsibility” at the start of the Spring 2022 semester. 

“The head coach takes on a lot and especially right now with the pandemic as far as testing and making sure that everyone is going to testing. There’s so many protocols, especially with sports and coming back early, we’ve had to kind of take on more with that. Getting meet entries in is something that I’ve never done before, so we do have another assistant coach who has kind of taken on a little bit more with that role, which is awesome. And then you know, really just taking on responsibilities. There is only one person there, and now there’s three to four co-head coaches. Just split dividing and conquering is really how we’re taking it. What skills do we each bring to the table and how can we divide them so we can do it best for the athletes,” said Summers.

Senior thrower Shannon Parks explained how she believes the season is going and gave some insight on how she thinks the remainder of the indoor track season will go.

“I think the season is going pretty good so far; everyone is working hard, putting in their best efforts at meets and practices and continuing to push themselves.” Parks continued, “I really think we will have a good rest of the season, with the effort the team is putting in and the help from the assistant coaches, I am excited to see what everyone will achieve.”

Summers, Westover and Phil Racicot, the Director of Athletics, explained that Shannon Parks along with other athletes are succeeding and have been outstanding this season, even with the lack of a head coach.

“It’s impressive to see athletes like Shannon Parks continue to set records with each meet,” said Racicot.

“Shannon Parks has been awesome. Even on my first day on campus as an assistant coach, she was so open to talking to me. Her being able to really step up as a leader on the team. She doesn’t necessarily work with the runners either. She’s a thrower, so she’s kind of in her own world and the ‘throwers world’ I guess. But for her to still take on that role, be a leader, send out the group text when we need them, make sure everyone goes to testing,” said Summers.

“Shannon Parks has an outside shot at making the Nationals in one of the throwing events. We potentially would have at least a few of our athletes beyond the LECs, there’s an open New England competition – open meaning Division I, II and III, just qualifying standards to participate in that particular event – and I’m sure we’ll have a handful of our athletes qualify for that,” said Westover.

As of right now, a new head coach has not been hired, and the athletic department is currently in the process of conducting interviews to find the most qualified candidate for the job. The department hopes to find a new coach in the coming weeks.


Aurora Caraballo can be contacted

at acaraballo@kscequinox.com

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