Spring has sprung, albeit prematurely, and with the advent of swimsuit season and carnations blossoming every which way, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s track team kicked off its season with a familiar sight: Coach Kirk Reynolds standing like a monument to all good things in the center of the field of Strehle track, dressed in his customary baggy blue jeans, short-sleeved red-and-black plaid button-down, and his signature headwear accessory. It’s a wonder that the wide-brimmed rattan hat is still in one piece, but even more amazing and sartorially splendid is that Kirk’s got the style to work this outfit like it’s the final piece of Prada’s Spring ’11 fashion show.
Coach Reynolds, known fondly by his athletes and friends as “just Kirk,” is back from his fall semester sabbatical and armed with an arsenal of new drills and perfectly-timed quips. After a semester spent cataloging Division One national meet results and meeting with elite running groups the country over, Kirk is back in action with a revived sense of optimism and zeal.
“My vision for this season is founded in improvement,” Kirk said. “Being in Division Three, we have a wide range of talent, but everyone still has room to improve. Even if you’re a frosh going to Nationals you can get better. Or if you’re a junior coming out for the first time, you can get better, too.”
Luckily for him, Kirk gets to save the new-junior-on-the-squad challenge for another year. For now, Kirk’s got enough on his hands wrangling PPXC trail running enthusiasts onto the track, and a fine set of sprinters off the volleyball courts.
“I really miss running on the roads,” cross-country runner Kayla Eland PZ ’12 confessed. “The track can get kind of boring.” Easy to say when Eland, who’s slated to run the 10,000- and 5,000-meter races, has spent the past semester running trails in the hills of Spain.
“It’s definitely going to take some getting used to,” Eland laughed before heading off to her workout.
“It’s going to be a change, wearing sunscreen now and doing speed drills,” Heidi Leonard PO ’12, P-P Volleyball libero and sprinting queen, explained.
Other athletes were happy with a change of scenery. Hannah McConnell PO ’12, a middle distance runner expecting to make a name for herself in the 1,600-meter and 800-meter races, explained that she was looking forward to a more co-ed approach to running.
“I think it’s nice. I mean, when I see Drex [Drexel Proctor PO ’11] out there it’s pretty inspirational. We didn’t get that perk when we had to run up Mills all the time. It was all kids on scooters and Motocross guys.”
This season Kirk hopes to unite women’s track and field as one solid team, bringing the two types of runner—those who prefer distance running and those who enjoy sprinting—together to form a more cohesive team. It’s too often that sprinters don’t quite understand the appeal of a 90-minute jaunt, and those 90-minute gals don’t like to admit they can’t run fast. Kirk knows that the goal of a unified team starts with strong leadership, and he seems ready to take on that role.
“When I was on sabbatical I was doing some interesting stuff, but it was all on the computer, all e-mails. What I really missed were the day-to-day interactions with the athletes,” he said.
With Coach Reynolds back at the helm, the Sagehens are heading into their season with new uniforms, a new attitude, and of course, their trademark “savage chirp” cheer.