Track and Field Athletes Poised to Join Roster of Pioneer Sports
The list of new and exciting things happening at Point Park has grown once again with the Pioneers' athletic department fielding men's and women's track and field teams for the first time in 2014-15.
The track and field teams were officially adopted at the University in November 2013, and after hiring head coach Kelly Parsley in January 2014, the teams will compete for the first time in school history starting this coming academic year.
Thirteen Varsity Sports
The two additional teams give the athletic department 13 varsity sports that compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC).
"The addition of men's and women's track and field teams at Point Park will add more opportunities for student-athletes to enjoy everything that intercollegiate athletics has to offer," Director of Athletics Dan Swalga said.
"The KIAC offers a track and field championship meet, so our student-athletes have a goal to win their event at the conference meet and compete nationally at the NAIA meet. We very are excited about continuing the growth of athletics at Point Park."
Coach Parsley, who will be the head coach of both teams, has 12 years of collegiate head-coaching experience. He's no stranger to starting a brand-new track and field program as he experienced that in previous coaching stops at Lindenwood University-Belleville (Mo.) and Goldey-Beacom (N.J.) College.
New Coach Applauds Academics, Location
Parsley, a native of Greensburg, Pa., feels the University has plenty to offer the potential track and field student-athlete.
"I think that Point Park can give recruits the best of everything be it academics, location and athletics," said Parsley. "I feel Point Park is one of the better schools academically in the NAIA. Combined with our great location in the City of Pittsburgh and the chance to compete for the NAIA national meet, we have a lot to offer."
Point Park track and field will not be limited by any events, as the goal is to field as many participants in as many events as possible, even in the first year. In terms of competing on the conference and national level, Parsley feels the Pioneers can be competitive right away.
"I believe that we can be one of the most-competitive teams in the KIAC our first year," said Parsley. "That will give the team a chance to compete nationally at the NAIA meet. And the NAIA is different than the NCAA because every individual who reaches the NAIA-qualifying standard during the season qualifies individually for the national meet. That gives more opportunity to compete for nationals."
Parsley sees an importance of getting recruits from high schools surrounding the Pittsburgh area but sees no reason why the recruiting boundaries would end there.
"I think that the WPIAL is one of the better high school districts in the state of Pennsylvania," said Parsley. "There's a lot of talent here locally, and a lot of times keeping kids here comes down to athletic scholarship. With the NAIA, you can give a good amount of athletic scholarship that's a lot of times better than most of the area colleges for track and field. And Point Park also has a good list of academic majors to satisfy a wide-range of student-athletes.
Attracting New Recruits
"I feel that we can attract recruits from anywhere. The city environment is very appealing, and any time that you are adding sports teams, that is a good sign for a University."
Parsley's vision of Point Park track and field is a team in which individual student-athletes not only maximize their athletic ability to the fullest, but also to compete as a team and form bonds and experiences that will be long-lasting.
"Athletically, I want to give my student-athletes the best chance to compete," said Parsley. "I want them to run faster for me than they ever have and to get in the best shape of their lives. I'm tough but fair, and I am not a yeller who gets in your face but rather someone who has high expectations for you to work hard in practice every day and be the best you can be."
"I want them to be a team, and I want them to compete for each other. I want student-athletes to have friendships and experiences to last them the rest of their lives and come back as active alumni," added Parsley. "Our sport is a lifestyle. You take it with you after you leave. And for us as a new program, there's a chance to be a part of something new and to be the first to build our history and tradition."
Text by Kevin Taylor, director of athletic communications.
The Point is a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University.