Sunday, January 24, 2016

Making the Case for the Track

The $19.9 million capital project proposed by the Hudson City School District will include "safer and more useful athletic facilities for school and community use." What's proposed is described in the flier distributed by HCSD last week: "A standard 400-meter, all weather track and multi-purpose turf athletic field facility would be constructed on the High School campus. A new baseball field would also be built at the High School."

The flier also points out that "Hudson is one of only two school districts in Columbia County that does not have a track that meets NY State Public High School Athletic Association standards" and that a project to improve the track facilities "was originally started nearly 50 years ago."

Additional (and more compelling) information about the track was provided to Gossips recently by city judge and former city attorney Jack Connor, who shared his firsthand experience with the track facilities at Hudson High School. Below is what Connor had to say: 
I've been involved with the Hudson track program for fifteen years as a volunteer coach, assistant coach, and head coach. Clearly there is a need for a new track here in Hudson. I can speak with a high degree of confidence in saying it is the worst track in the United States.
The track was constructed in approximately 1935 and is one of the few cinder tracks left in operation east of the Mississippi River. The track is still a yard track when all other tracks were converted to the metric system in 1979. It is almost certainly the only track in the United States that has a baseball field inside of it. Home plate is 15 feet from the side of the track. There are no barriers or fences between the plate and the track. When our students practice, they need to time their run around the track so they don't pass behind the plate when a ball is pitched or they risk being hit by a baseball thrown 75 miles an hour. Likewise, the long jump pit is directly behind first base. When we practice the long jump, we need to post a student as spotter so that if the first basemen misses a throw to first (which happens a lot more than you think) kids can scatter without being hit. Our high jump pit sits directly on the foul line in left field. Again, we need to post a spotter in case a foul ball heads our way. The pole vault facility was abandoned years ago because it ran directly along the third base line with the pit 10 feet from third base. Because the baseball field also isn't to regulation, on game day the school installs a snow fence across the track so we are limited to using only 40 yards of the track.
When the "new" high school was built in 1972 a track was also supposed to be built but was cancelled due to cost overruns. Yet, with all that, we have run a remarkably successful track program in the last six years--a high school All American, seven state champions, and multiple state medalists, sectional, and Patroon champions. Many of our athletes continue to compete in college. Sprinter Winston Lee is attending Syracuse on a track scholarship. Ali Bartolotta attends Marist in September, also on a track scholarship. These athletes work hard and are dedicated and deserve a level playing field to compete with every other track athlete in New York State.


  1. This subject was discussed in some detail at last Wednesday's information meeting sponsored by school district.

    I hope that people consider attending the next meeting on Wednesday, 6 PM, at the John L. Edwards school.

  2. God Bless Jack Connor. He has done more for our Track & Field and Cross Country kids than anyone in the district. As a volunteer! And he knows of what he speaks. This is an amazing opportunity to give our kids an athletic facility worthy of the 20th century -- not to mention the 21st. Go Bluehawks.