New track rules created by head coach Daniel Haas for the upcoming season have caused controversy on the track team. Among the most controversial changes is that coach Haas will be making cuts for the first time in his coaching career. The new rule is particularly jarring because track has always been one of Burlingame’s most popular sports, beloved for the wide variety of events and the promise of no cuts.
Haas, who has been coaching at BHS since 2012, explained that he wants create a more collaborative and cohesive culture for students who want to improve their performance.
“The track team was not a team for many years due to the atmosphere … I noticed a lack of team support,” Haas said.
The new guidelines come as the track team is moving up a division, and the rules focus on attitude, commitment, and work ethic. In addition to cuts, the new rules will allow only the top three athletes to be entered into each event, and they will eliminate the food runs and “Fun Fridays” that have become a staple of track and field over the past few seasons. In addition, athletes will be cut from the team if they have more than four unexcused absences from practices.
“[In prior years], many athletes were not really interested in running track and just wanted to socialize with their friends,” Haas said. “With only five coaches and five lanes for practice, the coaches could not give the time and energy to the athletes who wanted to be there and were dedicated.”
He hopes that the new guidelines will help give the serious athletes more structure and time to be coached.
Some track team members are hoping the new rules will create a more disciplined and competitive environment and help them perform better in their higher division. Senior co-captain Simon Ryng admits that some of the rules may be beneficial to the team because they will distinguish the most dedicated athletes from the others. However, both Ryng and junior co-captain Julia Rajkovic are worried the new rules will discourage or scare students from trying out for the team.
“I think we will lose a lot of members … some people with potential will be too afraid to try out for the team in fear of getting cut,” Rajkovic said.
Ryng knows that Haas only wants what is best for the team when it comes to how they perform in meets, but he is unsure that making drastic cuts is the best method for achieving this goal.
“I think that also ruins the environment in the team,” Ryng said. “Besides the fact that we are competing against each other, we also motivate one another and we may lose people who are maybe not as fast, but bring a positive attitude and hard work to practice.”
In response to the new track rules, juniors Nicole Malik, Priya Koliwad, and Meghan Hockridge are creating a running club for students who do not necessarily want to competitively run, but still want to have fun with the sport or stay in shape.
“I decided to create a running club because I wanted to embody all of the reasons I joined track,” Malik said.
“I wanted there to be a place for people to go to stay active, meet new people, and have fun without the commitment and competition of track. For me, track was never about the competition during the meets. I originally joined track to stay active, have fun with my friends, and meet new people,” Malik said.
Ryng and Rajkovic are still excited about the upcoming season and are looking forward to meeting new faces and being part of the more competitive environment.
“I still plan to encourage everyone to come out for the sport and support one another,” Rajkovic said.
Haas knows that some athletes will have difficulty adjusting to the new way track is run, but all of the coaches hope students will embrace the new guidelines and that they will help promote dedication to the sport and positive attitudes.
Haas also hopes that students will “accept the fact that track and field is a serious sport but also very enjoyable and challenging.”