Sifan Hassan and Femke Bol currently promote growth of track and field in The Netherlands, however, in the United States this sport has been very popular for years already! The main reason for this is the American sports culture. Love for sports and competition are big in America as basically anything is bigger over there. Still, there are many more benefits of track and field in the USA besides their exceptional sports culture and the competition size. Curious? In this article we’ll explain this more.
Combination of study and sports
To get straight to the point, the biggest benefit of college track and field, or playing any sport in general, is the perfect combination of study and sports. In the USA these go hand in hand. The school plans academic classes around athletes’ training schedules as they’re part of the collegiate sports team. Universities are very flexible when it comes to athletic obligations and support the student-athletes both academically and athletically. Americans cheer students on when they have great ambitions in their sport. In contrast, in The Netherlands emphasis goes to academics and getting a decent degree gets priority over athletic goals. So, if you would like to receive your college degree and get everything out of your athletic career, then an American University is the perfect place to go. This is true for all college sports and track & field surely is no exception.
Facilities and full time coaching
There is a reason that 417 out of 558 American athletes at the Rio Olympic Games are (ex-) collegiate athletes. A student-athlete career serves as the perfect stepping stone into the worlds top competition in sports. A part of this has to do with the extreme professional and advanced facilities at American universities in combination with coaches you can always count on. Every athlete wants nothing more than perform at their absolute best and get the maximum out of their careers. Schools understand this as well and therefore, optimalise the facilities for their sport teams. This is shows in the amazing track stadiums and weight rooms you see at American colleges, but this is also reflected in their coaching staff. This works very differently from what we’re used to in The Netherlands with our club teams. Generally Dutch track and field coaches are either volunteers or they receive a small salary for their coaching duties that they (usually) do in their free time in addition to another ‘more serious’ job. College T&F coaches are hired by the school and it’s their fulltime job to work with the school’s student-athletes. Commonly they’re always available for athletes if you need them and the door of their track office is always open, even outside normal practice times. Moreover, usually you find this office next to the track which, in turn, is located at central place on campus nearby your dorm room or apartment, academics buildings and restaurants. Very convenient so to speak! Oh and commonly you don’t ‘just’ have 1 coach only. As a student-athlete you have a head coach, event coach, strength- and condition coach, and often some assistant coaches as well. More than enough guidance and expertise I would say.
In this article we will tell you all about the best and most beautiful track and field outdoor facilities. But if you also want to know more about indoor track and field facilities, be sure to check out this article.
Everything is taken care of
Everything, but really everything, around athletics is taken care of for you. In addition to the coaches training you and getting you ready for competitions, everything else is taken care of. Think about registrations for competitions, hotel accommodation, transportation, food at competitions, etc. All you have to do is train hard and be ready on race day with your spikes and passport. That’s it! A start number will be pressed into your hands and even the physio will join you. Ideal right? Those spikes you get from the school, by the way. Just like all your other equipment, shoes and clothes. At the beginning of the new school year, it is always like Santa Claus came by with all the clothes and shoes you receive! They also call this “Christmas in August.
Great competition at extremely high level
The level of athletics in America is extremely high. This is due to the popularity of the sport and this reflects in the size of the field of participants. Cross country is a discipline where this is especially visible! In the Netherlands you usually see about 30 participants at the start of a cross country race. In the United States, it is not crazy if the number of participants is around, shock, 250. But also in track athletics there are usually many athletes competing. Not surprisingly, the level is naturally also very high, especially when you consider that athletes also benefit from more professional facilities and full-time coaching. But of course not all those hundreds of participants at a track meet are “future Olympians” and you can look up competition within college track and field of appropriate level. Also, these competitions with large numbers of participants are ideal if you want to gain more competition experience. After all, no training is as race-specific as a race itself!
Athletics an individual sport? Not at all! Team spirit is strong within college track and field teams. This is partly because you really train together every day, but in addition you do many other things together like study, eat and often you even live together! Traveling together on the bus (or plane!) to a game and staying overnight in a hotel also contributes greatly to that team feeling. Also, nerve-playing together in your hotel room on the morning of game day should not be forgotten.
One event where this team aspect plays a much larger role is cross country. In fact, in America these races are always team competitions and the first 5 finishers contribute to the team score. This makes it a really exciting battle between different schools and every spot you finish higher counts and can make a decisive difference in the team result. Super fun to compete for a high team ranking this way in addition to putting down individual performances.
Not only in cross country, but indoor and outdoor track and field are often team-based. The regular season here is more focused on individual performance and qualification for Nationals, but once the Conference Championships come around, the team is again at the forefront.
American sports culture
The last advantage associated with college track and field in America has to do with sports culture. Sports is a ”BIG DEAL” in the United States and is very different from our lives. In few countries does sport play as big a role as it does in America, and they really love sports there. Not just the professional leagues, but college sports teams are extremely popular too. Student-athletes are often seen as heroes of the school and the sports games attract a lot of spectators including normal students and even college teachers like to come and watch. American football, basketball and baseball are the most popular, but even around the athletic track there is usually a large crowd. Universities invest a lot in their sports teams with the goal of having their athletes perform as well as possible at games. Supporters flock to this, which in addition to being hearty fun is also very motivating! Extra reason to do your very best when you stroll around the athletic track in your school’s jersey.
So college track and field has tremendous benefits and can be seen as one of the best stepping stones to a professional career. Do you participate in athletics and are you curious about track and field and studying in America? Fill out this form and we will contact you as soon as possible!