Track and field’s bumpy times at FAMU

Photo courtesy: @famutf Instagram page

Florida A&M University has experienced numerous changes in the athletic department over the last decade. There have been 10 athletic directors, which has caused instability within the department.

The university’s track and field team has been significantly affected by these constant changes in the department.

The lack of trainers and compliance officers have made it difficult for members of the team to get the help needed to be the best they could be. Students commit to the university under the impression that the athletic department is run professionally. Unfortunately, many in the program have been left disappointed and unsatisfied.

London Shaw, a thrower on FAMU’s track and field team, likened her experience to a roller coaster.

“My athletic experience here at FAMU has been a constant roller coaster. Some issues within the athletic department that have affected the team have been losing members of compliance and the AD,” Shaw said. “Although the track team didn’t have the best relationship with the old AD, this has caused us to go over a year without a head coach and coaching staff who are qualified.”

Shaw said that as a result of unprofessionalism within the department, the track team and other intercollegiate sports teams are left to work with little to no resources and still expected to perform at their highest capabilities.

“If it is not football, FAMU does not set athletes up the best that they can. They are the only ones who receive recognition, and the only ones who get handed things, regardless of the season. They got an athletic cooler, but we don’t even have the proper equipment to compete with. Other sports teams are hanging on by threads while the football team gets to fly around the country,” Shaw said.

“Last season, my event group had to beg and plead for them to complete our throwing ring … and it still was only half done. I was forced to compete in events with shoes with holes because someone ‘forgot’ to place an order for our shoes. It wasn’t until I purchased my shoes out of pocket that I had some at competition level,” Shaw added.

While lacking the necessary resources, the track team had to sacrifice attending meets during last season.

Jaylyn Scott, a former hurdler and school record holder for the team, said that because of unprofessionalism and issues that arose years ago, athletes had to suffer by not attending some meets.

“My first and second year, we were under a self-imposed postseason ban because of some academic infractions from teams and coaches almost a decade before us. We missed multiple meets in my last season competing at FAMU. We did not receive track spikes until almost the end of the season; it was just a lot of unprofessional activity between the coaches and administrators,” Scott said.

Scott said he would have made a different decision on being an athlete at FAMU if he had been aware that the athletic department was experiencing so many hardships.

“Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have been interested in FAMU’s track team. I don’t regret attending the school, but I would have explored other options and opportunities, more than likely committing to another school,” Scott said.

While being a member of FAMU track comes with highs and lows, many members said they have enjoyed their relationships and experiences.

Brandon Love, a former sprinter on the team, enjoyed his overall experience and is grateful for his teammates and the people he met.

“Overall, my experience on the team was positive,” Love said. “I think the relationships I created with my teammates in the competition made the experience positive.

“Were there negative experiences, yes, but I feel like that exists with anything you do,” Love added.