Regent’s track and field team, a newcomer to intercollegiate sports, preforms strong at its first competition. With a successful debut, and exciting new developments and programs on the horizon, the future for Regent sports is looking bright.
No Ordinary Competition
On a cold, wet, overcast weekend, not unlike others, Regent history was made. On Jan. 21, 2017, Regent University’s track and field team traveled to Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA, to compete against other colleges in both track and field events. Though such a competition would be just another sporting event for most schools, the meet was a historic first for Regent. Not only was it a debut for Regent’s team, it was also the university’s first ever official intercollegiate league competition. As an official team in of the National Christian College Athletic Association, Regent competed alongside 10 other colleges, including Old Dominion University, William and Mary, and Virginia Wesleyan.
Rev. Roger Cheeks, the Director of Student Activities and Leadership, and the Regent’s Athletic Director, has been working on the team since May of 2016. “Having intercollegiate sports at Regent… adds another dimension to the excellence that we strive for” he commented. This striving for excellence not only applies in Regent’s newly found competitive arena, but ties back into Regent’s mission; being involved in intercollegiate sports allows Regent to train and develop Christian leaders to change the world in this area. Rev. Cheeks said that “this is Dr. Robertson’s vision. [For Regent] to have a world-class track and field team starting [our athletic programs] off.”
Why was this sport picked to be Regent’s first? It’s simple: Track and field allows a wide demographic of students to participate. Both men and women are needed to compete in a multitude of different events, ranging from sprinting to hurling. Furthermore, Rev. Cheeks pointed out that track is relatively simple to get started.
It’s already budding after only a semester of existence, with 40 students on the team and three coaches. “[We have our] coach, who is world-class herself from Ohio State University, three coaches, two other student workers who help administratively, and a chaplain. It takes a team to manage a team” Rev. Cheeks said.
Working hard and finishing strong
Both Rev. Cheeks and Coach Ayanna Reece expressed how proud they were of the team, and how blessed they were to work with the students. “These kids have worked very, very hard [through] 6 o’clock in the morning practices, meetings, [and by] staying focused,” commented Rev. Cheeks. Team members Sarah Golden and Sara Prokop placed first and second in their heat, respectively. Golden was ecstatic, stating that the surreal experience was something she never expected. “My encouragement to the coaches and the team is [that] this is not about winning or losing, but about finishing and finishing strong,” Rev. Cheeks continued. Coach Reece described the experience as a blessing, expressing her extreme gratitude and pride in the team.
Exciting new developments
By the fall of 2017, Rev. Cheeks hopes to have intercollegiate men and women’s soccer, as well with women’s volleyball. Within the next two years, the university is looking to expand, and to add baseball, men and women’s basketball, and wrestling. “Some people say it’s a daunting task,” Rev. Cheeks commented, “but we started [the track team] in May of 2016 and are [now] at our first track meet in January of 2017.”
Thanks to the hard work and success of this team, more intercollegiate sports are in the works for Regent students. Rev. Cheeks and all involved are honored and feel extremely blessed to be a part of something so momentous. “Every day I go into work is just a blessing,” said Rev. Cheeks. “I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Coach Reece. “It takes a lot of courage for an athlete to step out for the first time in an intercollegiate sport. I’m really proud of our athletes.”
Sara Waits is a staff writer for The Daily Runner.