Track renovations disrupt spring sports

Avery Smith, Staff Writer

Madison athletes have been faced with a new challenge this spring: the impending construction of our track. With just one home field, it has already been hard to split time between all the different sports played on turf. Due to the limited space on campus, both fall and spring sports have to share off-campus alternatives like Waters Field, Nottoway Park and Oak Marr Recreation Center. Student-athletes have learned valuable skills such as flexibility and teamwork. However, the newly-announced track construction has caused an outburst of emotions from the spring and fall sports teams alike, and after two years of sports inconsistencies, this season may not be as normal as we hoped.   

Initially, the track construction was scheduled to begin after students return from spring break, which would mean track and field, soccer and lacrosse would lose their home venue beginning April 11. Students and parents alike were outraged, and in response, the administration worked diligently to accommodate athletes affected by this change. Spring sports gained two more weeks of time on the turf after the initial start date for construction, which added more home games to the calendar. But the delay of construction means that fall sports will lose the Madison turf for a small portion of their seasons as well. 

As simple as the solution may sound; both spring and fall sports lose part of their season at home, this is much easier said than done.

“There’s two parts to why we have to do construction now,”  Andrew Baird, Madison’s Athletic Director, said. “The first being the financial piece of it… the county took water samples from below the track and found that water had seeped underneath the foundation, causing it to crack. After hearing this, the county made a plan to fix the track and now is the best time financially… The second part is time, a normal track resurface takes roughly 8 weeks, but for ours, they have to take the track off, tear everything up and redo the foundation, so the timeline is a lot more significant. It’ll take about 16 weeks.”    

Back in 2020, spring sports made it three weeks before getting shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, with many athletes not even getting the opportunity to put on their uniform. The devastating impacts of COVID-19 affected every person in the world, but for athletes, not getting to compete was a tough loss. 

In 2021, the Madison Sports seasons were condensed and rearranged, going from the winter season, to fall, and then to spring. All three seasons featured fewer games and an altered schedule for playoffs. Although this was a more positive outcome than the year before, student-athletes still felt as though their seasons came to an abrupt end. 

For the 2021-22 school year, fall and winter sports hit the ground running, with minor differences from years past, but completing full seasons nonetheless. Spring sports, even with the schedule shift and accommodations made by the school, face the inevitable loss of their home field once April 25 hits.