Faster, Further, Family

The Forum on Film

Jesse Breidenbach


Jillian Mike, Staff Reporter

    Of the many sports teams we have here at the Heart, the Indoor Track and Field team has been on the rise over the past few years. This winter sport, coached by Tom Festa, has grown and expanded greatly in past years under his guidance. We met with Coach Festa and several members of the team to show what really goes into the success of the track team. These interviews, along with footage from meets and practices, can be found in The Forum on Film video accompanying this article.

     A track team requires a great number of athletes, and there were times in the past when the SHHS Track and Field team was not very competitive because of the low number of participants. The wide variety of different events provide the opportunity for many athlete to participate, however, all of these events require different skills, so the SHHS coaching staff set out to recruit more team members. Some of these events include distance, mid-distance, sprinting, jumping, throwing, and several others. The Sacred Heart Indoor Track team consists of more than forty athletes who run, jump, and throw in nearly every competitive event. Members of the Indoor Track team do not only focus on individual success, but also the success of their teammates. A common theme at Sacred Heart has always been family, and the Indoor Track team is no exception. All of the runners we interviewed all agreed that the team is its own little family, and that they feel they safe and nurtured there.

    First, we met with several individual members of the team, all of which have an important place on the team. Some of the members we interviewed were seniors, Jenna French, Edward Williams Jr., Elysa Lopez, and Michael Digiovancarlo Jr. Also, we met with sophomore, Asia Chapman, and freshman, Nicholas Turner. First, we asked several members which events they did. Jenna said that she does the 800m, the 1600m, and sometimes the 1000m, and Nick does the 400m and  the 300m. And, Asia said that she runs the 4x200m relay, the 55m, and SMR, and EJ does the 55m hurdles, 55 dash, and 300 m. When asked about his favorite events Mikey said his were the 200, the 4×200, and the 4×100, and Jenna said her favorite events was the 800. Senior, Elysa, said she joined that track team because, “They told me it was like a family, and throughout all of the sports teams I’ve been on, I haven’t really felt that family vibe you’re supposed to feel. But the minute I joined the track team it was like, wow, you’re like my brother or you’re like my sister.” Asia said she joined the team because, “Last year I did outdoor track, and I really enjoyed it. This year, I just wanted to try something new.” E.J. said that, “Attitude wise, basically how they feel about them and how they run, it’s like all the positive attitude,” that makes the team and its members special. When asked his thoughts on the team as a whole, Nick said, “We’re really good this year, we could improve a little just we need to work on skills.”  Mikey said, “We have ups and downs but, mostly ups we’re all getting better, do have a few arguments ever once and a while but we still come together.” Jenna said, “I feel like Mr. Festa does a great job as an overall coaching job, and I feel like the distance coach does a great job just tweaking my little things I need improvement on, as well as my other distance teammates.”

    As well as interviewing individual members, we also interviewed several runners from specific teams. We interviewed jumpers, James Bona and Jesse Xhuti, and relay runners, Aidan Knappe and Tori Creaven. For their events, James competes in the 300, the 600, the 4×800, and the 4×400, and Jesse competes in the 4×400 and the hurdles, and they both compete in long jump. Also, Aidan competes in the 4×800, the 1000 and the SMR, and Tori does the 4×800, the 4×400, and the 1000. First we spoke with the jumpers, who agreed that the jumping team is a little family of its own. James said that he believes, “The track team encompasses the best of Sacred Heart. We have a spot for everyone.” Jesse said that is best memory and favorite thing about track was, “Going outside and PRing, and it always makes me happy to get a PR and it’s not that just that one time.” When asked why he though the jumping team should be recognized as a special part of the track team, and James said, “It’s just as important as any of the other events because, you are able to score just as many, if not more, points as athletes in other events.” As for the relay runners, they also feel they are a family. Aidan said he joined the track team because, “At first I joined for the fitness, but then I just fell in love with the sport.” Also, Tori said her favorite part of being on the team was, “The friends I have made.” And, when we asked their thoughts on the team as a whole Aidan said, “I think that we have potential, maybe during outdoor if we can make states, that’s the goal,” and Tori said, “It’s cool and fun, and we all have good chemistry.” When asked how the relays were their own little families, Tori said, “We all practice together and then go to all the meets and warm up together. We all get stressed together, lose together, win together, and over time we start bonding more than ever and it feels great.”

    We also spoke with the team’s coach, Tom Festa, and Sacred Hearst’s Athletic Director, Michael Madden. Coach Festa, has been coaching both the indoor Track and Field team for the past two years and he has coached the outdoor Track and Field at Sacred Heart for six years. He said his favorite part about coaching is, “Seeing a student athlete who is not the best, work hard and lower their times so at the last meet they have their best time of the season.” Festa says he coaches at Sacred Heart because he likes the Catholic community that we have here. When asked how he got the kids to work together and support each other he said, “Everyone has to realize we have to work hand and hand, and we do team building and we do the Saturday workout…. everyone does the Saturday workout together…. and everyone knows what the other person goes through.”  Coach Festa says that giving kids the opportunity to voice their feelings is very important, and he’s says he learns from the kids as well.

Next we talked with Mike Madden, and asked his opinions on the track team.“I think the track program overall is great,” he said, “We have a good group of kids. We’re very lucky across the board, 90-95% of our students athletes are on the honor roll. We have a great group coming up and a great group ready to graduate….. We’ve really made a name for ourselves the few years the team has been back.” When asked how he thought how the kids come together to work and support each other, he said, “It’s something that is difficult to do.I think it’s why our coaches are special and the student athletes we have are special, because you have kids who are distance, you have kids that are jumper, kids that are throwers, and their ability to want to more about each of the specialties and root for them as their out there competing…. They know that’s it’s another extension of the Sacred Heart family, that they have each other’s back.”

     The Indoor Track team works very hard, at both practices and meets, and deserves much recognition. The runners put hours into training to improve themselves, and to improve the team. We would like to thank the coaches and members of the Indoor Track and Field team, for being so helpful and cooperative in the creation of this project. We would also like to wish the coaches and athletes luck with Outdoor Track and Field season. As mentioned, The Forum on Film accompanying this article will be linked above. Thank you for reading, and continue to show the track team support and recognition!