Ever since joining the track and field team freshman year, the workouts held every day going into the first meet have always continued to motivate the team to achieve the one true goal — becoming Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) champions. When we were first brought together as a team on Feb. 1, our Head Coach Sean Livingston immediately set the goal for both the men’s and women’s teams to win the CCC championship after two heartbreaking losses last year to Nichols College (men) and Salve Regina University (women).
Track and field is one of those sports that many people don’t understand, and that is okay, but many don’t realize that this sport isn’t your traditional team sport like basketball or baseball. Like swimming and tennis, track and field is an individual-based sport where 99 percent of the events are based solely on yourself, leaving that one percent for relay races which involves more than one athlete competing at the same time. I never really understood that mindset until my freshman year track and field season.
Coach Livingston and both assistant coaches — Chris and Renae Cicchinelli — took me and the other freshmen on the team under their wings and showed us the ropes of the team. Going into my first collegiate practice, it was weird knowing that the only time I would be having the opportunity to compete would be in the spring, which is different compared to my high school career where I competed in both indoor and outdoor.
Coach Livingston always begins the season with his motivational speech describing both the men’s and women’s teams history and what our goals are for the year. My freshman year, the men’s team had been the reigning CCC champions for the past seven years and we were trying to continue that streak. Coach Chris Cicchinelli — who we refer to as “Coach Chick” — then took the throwers and jumpers who he focuses on and began to tell us that this isn’t your traditional high school practice where you run a lap, lift for 30 minutes, and call it a day. This one statement, he said, has always been in my mindset since my freshman year: “If you can last two weeks under my program, you’re guaranteed success on this team.” Those two weeks went on to be the hardest and longest weeks ever.
My fellow teammate, junior Ben Joly, and I were on the verge of quitting the sport we loved because of how tough these workouts were, but luckily our captain at the time, Chad O’Neil (‘16), pushed us and mentored us to get through the workouts and the rest of the season. Our team then went on to win our eighth consecutive CCC title that year.
That feeling of winning something, whether it’s a conference championship or even your specific event at a meet, makes you want to keep that going, and that is what this team wanted to do. We push each other to our limits both in practice and during meets and root for every teammate. We have one of the largest — if not the largest team — on campus, and all 70 men and women root for each other whether they’re in first or last. The family that is made throughout the season is something that one can’t really describe other than amazing.
Last season, both teams lost the conference title, and that feeling was horrible. The sophomores at the time, which included us, Joly, Savannah Fox Tree-McGrath, and Kylie Hofhaug, all said this would not happen again and that has been our mindset this season so far. We push each other every day to get better and have been working hard since September knowing we will get those titles back on April 28.
The desire to win from both teams this year is unbelievable. From the start of warm-ups, everyone is competing with one another to make sure everyone puts in the work and gets better every practice. On the team, we hold one another accountable for everything, whether it be grabbing equipment needed for practice or being on time, even to making sure everyone knows what time practice is. Our team has a sense of resilience because we do not have a track on campus, so as upperclassmen, we take higher responsibility to getting van certified and even offering to take underclassman to the track at Portsmouth High School.
During our hardest workouts, groups are always separated by their designated events, such as: jumpers and throwers, sprinters and distance. While all groups aren’t always at the track at the same time, the groups will always support those who are there together. When the full team is at the track, the team holds a bond that I feel no other team holds. With such a versatile team of athletes competing in multiple events of different techniques, we get to see what other groups are doing to make themselves better, as well as bettering the team.