Track team holding tryouts

Friday afternoons often signal the end of the school week for many Florida A&M University students.

However, members of the women’s track and field team postponed their weekend plans for at least a few more hours.

Maicel Malone, who recently began her second season as head coach of the FAMU women’s track and field team, has restored some enjoyment in the squad’s training routine – even on the weekends.

“Track practice was a job. But it was a job we liked to do because she made it fun again,” said senior Jeanna Dorcelin, 21, of West Palm Beach.

“When you make mistakes, you want someone to correct you and tell you what you’re doing wrong. We were running faster and we were winning. If you get faster, it becomes fun.”

A new group of women may soon have the opportunity to work under Malone’s direction. The team begins tryouts today on the Robert “Pete” Griffin Track at 3 p.m.

The Lady Rattlers lost several athletes before Malone’s arrival, Dorcelin said. Academic struggles and internal dissension were two of the largest culprits, she said.

Malone’s commitment to the team has not gone unnoticed.

“Coach Malone is pretty much an idol for me,” said senior Lindsay Thomas, 21, of Sicklerville, N.J. “She’ll take time out and really help you out. She never really gives up on you.”

The goal of the tryouts is to gain members, which would increase the team’s chances to score in meets. “I’m looking to find some diamonds in the rough,” Malone said.

Though the squad may add new runners, field events are a point of emphasis. These events include the long jump, triple jump, shot put and discus, among others.

FAMU must also fill the void left by standout hurdler Shantrice Greene’s departure. During her junior and senior seasons, the Miami native qualified for the NCAA Regionals in the 100-meter hurdles.

Those interested in running for the team will try to impress this week during the trials. However, the newest Lady Rattlers will begin the season late. FAMU opened the 2006 cross country season Labor Day weekend at the Jacksonville Invitational.

Malone said the team would like to perform well and work toward proper condition for indoor season. “It was kind of like a time trial away from home. I want to get better so we can be a lot more competitive with the other teams,” she said of the team’s initial performance.

Thomas agreed that the fall season is a vital part of her training regimen. “I just have to stay focused and try to get myself prepared. I’m using cross country as a good base for track.”

As the team looks to capture its first conference title since 2001, there is excitement about its potential. “This is the best group of young ladies I’ve worked with. I don’t even know how else to define it,” Malone said.

Tryouts for the women’s track and field team begin today and end Thursday. The trials start at 3 p.m. each day. Interested athletes must meet eligibility requirements.

Prospective team members must be full-time students, have completed an athletic physical with blood work, and received approval from FAMU and NCAA compliance. This weekend, FAMU will travel to Gainesville for the Mountain Dew Invitational at the University of Florida.