Head coaches Nikki Rosee and Camisha McKenzie-Laurent are at it again with a new experience together as this is the first time they coach winter track at Edgemont together.
At the end of the cross-country season, Coach McKenzie said she had “learned a lot, and [has] a few new ideas to try, not just involving training, but the dynamics of the team for next season.” Now that it is the winter season, the coaches have gotten to work on implementing these changes to benefit the team.
Near the start of the season the captains were chosen, but unlike the traditional four to six captains, Rosee and McKenzie wanted to create a different environment by having a total of 10 captains: Devin Frank, Daniel Liu, Edward Lima-Heese, Josh Kirschner, Atticus Margulis-Ohnuma, Dimitar Peev, Nora Butler, Kayla Ferraro, Tiana Guo and Dhatri Sangasani.
“We felt that with track and field because there are so many different events — sprints, distance, jumps, throws — we wanted to have someone in each field who is responsible and committed,” McKenzie said. “It’s also a way to not put so much pressure if there were only a few captains.”
Another aspect the coaches wanted to improve was team participation. In an effort to accomplish this, the coaches started having an Athlete of the Week as a way to add motivation. Peev and Ferraro were chosen as this week’s honorees.
However, since the team still leans on the smaller side, the coaches are really trying to encourage each athlete to compete in the maximum possible events, but also a variety of events. As a result, many runners are trying field events and other distances outside of their personal norm. For example, after a few hurdling practices, first-time runner Eric Wang competed in the 55-meter hurdles.
“I think it could have been better, but it was still a fun event to try,” Wang said. “Once I practice more and work on my form it will be great.”
This also means that an unfamiliar event, racewalking, is being added to the mix. For many years, Edgemont’s athletes stared in wonderment at the bizarre form of racewalking and the Panthers haven’t had a racewalker in about a decade. Suddenly it has peaked many athletes’ interest.
Captain Ferraro was one of several who tried the racewalk. “I am not the best at running, but I love trying new things,” she said. “I tried race walking and fell in love with it, and now it’s my main event.”
While it’s true athletes walk during the racewalk, it also requires lots of endurance. Coach Rosee has been working with her team and said, “We are really just starting. Right now they are learning the technique and then doing endurance workouts with that. I’m also going to start incorporating some longer runs, too. Overall though, the people who are really dedicated to it are enjoying it, and they are doing really great.”
While the size of the team shrunk ever so slightly, the coaching staff has grown to a substantial number of four. In addition to head coaches Rosee and McKenzie, veteran assistant Steve Rubenstein returns, and assistant coach Natalie McKenzie is a newcomer as of Dec. 11.
“The benefit of having many coaches is that each coach specializes in a specific category, which allows for each section of winter track to be stronger than ever,” Peev said. “Whenever I’m running, I feel like someone is always checking how I’m doing and most importantly, each coach is teaching us something new about our running skills and events.”
McKenzie-Laurent is enthusiastic about the size of the coaching staff. “There is so much coverage in each field, so I really feel that the athletes are getting the most,” she said. “We also all have different visions and see through a different tunnel. We each can notice something different about each athlete and assess which events would be good for them and pull them out of others.”
In addition, McKenzie-Laurent enjoys working with her sister. “I love working with my sister,” she said. “It’s something we actually did outside of here so we knew it wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve always been her boss and now I get to see her every day.”
Rubenstein, who has been coaching Edgemont track for more than 30 years, is pleased with the direction of the program.
“We are very lucky to have all of them,” he said. “They have so much knowledge and enthusiasm, and they teach and prepare the team so well.”
Less than a month into the season, there were more than 13 personal records during the first meet, so the proof is in the results.