Multi-sport status impeded

Football players discouraged from joining track in off-season for fear of injury

Jayevan Foster played receiver for the Gaels football team for four seasons, from 2008 to 2011.
Jayevan Foster played receiver for the Gaels football team for four seasons, from 2008 to 2011.
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Foster said a field house is essential to attracting track recruits.
Foster said a field house is essential to attracting track recruits.
Photo: 

Queen’s athletes can’t cross over like they used to: it has to be one sport or the other.

Queen’s has a rich history of football players competing in track and field with mild to exceptional success. Sheridan Baptiste, a Gaels wide receiver in the 1980s, holds the school record for both 60m dash and long jump.

Receivers and defensive backs in particular are able to transition to sprint teams with relative ease. There’s little success with athletes from other sports — namely soccer — attempting middle and long distance events.

“The preparation to do the distance events is much more extensive and much [more] different from what team players typically do in training,” track and field coach Steve Boyd said. “It takes weeks and months to gain [the aerobic capability necessary], and if you’re doing that you’re probably taking away from your primary sport.”

Beyond athletic ability, more factors preventing athletes from competing in track have surfaced in recent years.

Football commands the largest pool of scholarship money, leaving coaches reluctant to allow coveted talent to risk injury competing in track events. They’re also likely to dissuade red-shirted first- or second-years to avoid losing a year of CIS eligibility.

“If you’re getting injured [in track] and the football team is paying you, then you’re not really benefitting them,” said fifth-year sprinter Jayevan Foster, a former Gaels receiver.

With track and field’s recent downgrade to a varsity club, funding from Queen’s Athletics has severely decreased. Athletes now have to pay fees and transportation to and from meets.

Lack of funding not only affects students, but the coaching and facilities as well. Unlike other powerhouse athletic programs like Western and Windsor, Queen’s has no indoor field house for track.

Without the ability to practice on campus in winter, athletes use facilities at RMC, working around their schedule — rarely without hassle.

“How do you bring kids into your program if you don’t even have your own field house?” Foster said.

Despite the setbacks, four-time OFSAA track medalist Thomas Juha participated in both football and track as a first-year in 2011-12. During recruitment, he made his intentions clear to do both sports and met little resistance from football coaches.

“[The coach] made it clear I was there primarily to do football, but supported [my choice to do track],” Juha said.

Juha understands the lesser funding for clubs, but warned against the detrimental effects that the cuts may have.

“Volleyball does well, basketball is getting better and football won the Vanier [Cup], so I guess their plan is working,” Juha said. “But other people are suffering from it.

“There’s really nothing to bring recruits in for track.”

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