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The Track and Field life: internal and external motivation

Tue, Apr 18th 2017 11:00 pm
Photo courtesy of the Brockport Athletic Communications via Flickr
Photo courtesy of the Brockport Athletic Communications via Flickr

 Whether it be running faster than they've ever ran before, jumping higher than they ever thought possible or throwing farther than they could have dreamed of throwing track and field student-athletes give their all no matter what event they are competing in at a meet. There are approximately 44 different events that our Golden Eagles compete in as a part of The College at Brockport's track and field team. Not every athlete does every event at the collegiate level. Normally, as student-athletes are recruited from high school their best events are the ones their coaches enter them in to begin with.

Some mornings begin early and some end late as practices and meets combine with academic life to create a schedule that does little more than eat, class, homework, track and sleep in between it all. To be willing to put so much energy forth their must be strong motivation and a passion to do so. For senior high jumper Damien Fender his relationship with high jump wasn't always as smooth as his takeoff is now.

"When I was in highschool I did a wide variety of events but highjump was actually one of my worse ones," Fender wrote in an email. "When I became a collegiate track athlete high jump actually was not my event. I had to ask my coach to give me a chance. Honestly since it was my worst event it interested me to work harder and get better at it."

The drive to always improve has led Fender to become a top performer not only amongst his teammates but also in SUNYACs. In order to get where he is today Fender along with his fellow Golden Eagles had to put in hours of practice time to get where they are today. On average, student-athletes put in around 20 hours or more of time into their respective sports each week. This includes: practices, athletic meetings, meets/competitions, required weight training and conditioning activities, discussion/review of film, etcetera.

Routines whether they be personal pre-competition rituals or team traditions outside of the rigid physical schedule help each athlete to not only control nerves on meet-days but also to balance the sense individuality that comes with being on the track and field team with a sense of community. For Fender, music is the way that he begins to warm up before both practices and meets.

"My only true ritual is to listen to music about 30 minutes before I jump/throughout my warmup," Fender wrote.

Fender's not the only one to incorporate music into his routine. Sports teams and athletes everywhere have created pre-game playlist after pre-game playlist in order to get into competition mode. In 2007 music was actually banned by the New York Marathon as a part of the "wider USA Track & Field ban on tactical communications between runners and their coaches," according to thesportjournal.org. In response hundreds of runners openly disregarded the ban. They risked disqualification to listen to their music.

Not only do athletes around the world enjoy listening to their favorite warm up songs, whether it be "Started from the Bottom" by Drake or "All I Do is Win" by DJ Khaled, but according to thehealthsciencesacademy.org music has been proven to help performance in four ways. One, distraction from the fatigue that sets in. Two, it created an internal sense of motivation. Three, by synchronising your movements to the beat of the song you can up the level of your workout and four, music tends to elicit emotion and unless your go to pre-game song is "Supermarket Flowers" by Ed Sheeran you'll most likely be able to harness happiness to make you work harder.

Besides performing to the lyrics of their favorite artists track and field athletes also perform to the sound of their teammates cheering them on. If you have ever been to a meet here at Brockport there is not much down for the Golden Eagles and that is by their choice.

Whenever they aren't racing, throwing, jumping or pole vaulting they are rushing to their teammates events and cheering them on as they shoot to place well for SUNYACs coming up in a couple weeks. Music may be internal motivation before the gun goes off and the hand is raised but between teammates and coaches external motivation isn't that hard to come by.

This is shown in the things the athletes come away from the season and their time here at Brockport enjoying the most. Freshman high jumper Hunter Louth shared the three things he likes most about being a part of the team.

"One is the team. They make you feel wanted and part of something special," Louth wrote in an email. "Two is coach Bligh. He has helped me do things I never thought I would be able to do and he's not just a coach to me he's a friend! Three is the jumping. I like to jump, but if you're jumping and you don't like the people that you're doing it with then you no longer want to do it."

There's no doubt the runners, jumpers, throwers and pole vaulters competing in green and gold like what they are doing as they continue to excel and raise the bar with each meet that draws them closer to the SUNYAC Championships and eventually NCAA Finals.



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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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