Track & field continues push to remain on campus


UNCW hurdlers compete during the Bill Carson Invitational earlier this month.

McLeod Brown | Sports Editor

When UNCW’s track & field teams were offered a chance to keep their programs running on Feb. 26, emotions and optimism ran high for members of those teams that felt they were unfairly on the athletic department’s cutting board.

Nearly two months after that lifeline was made available, and the belief that the teams will be around for the foreseeable future remains a distinct possibility. 

The team and the supporters of Save UNCW Track must raise $250,000 by May 31 to continue the program for the 2015-16 academic year. An additional $800,000 for track renovations must be raised by Feb. 1, 2016 for the program to remain beyond next year as well.

The initiative has already seen over $100,000 flow into it in the past few weeks, a promising sign for one of UNCW’s most successful athletic teams in recent years.

“At every meet we have gone to, we have made announcements to the stadiums about our fight to save the program,” said UNCW track senior John Riemer. “At the Colonial Relays a parent from another team heard the announcement and was sitting next to one of our volunteer sprint coaches, champion sprinter and school record holder Meena Reed. She asked her about what was going and she shared our story and her experience. The parent on the spot wrote a $10,000 check toward our cause and promised more donations as our fundraising progressed.”

Along with making progress in conserving the team’s future, they have also made progress on the competitive side as well. The teams finished second overall in the annual UNCW Seahawk Invitational in mid-March, while the men’s team placed first and the women’s team placed second in the Colonial Relays earlier this month.

Most recently, the men’s team placed fifth in the Bill Carson Invitational last week while the women finished in sixth. The month of April in general is bound to be an important one for the team on both, the financial and competitive, fronts.

The team is hosting an event for larger donors on April 16th in The Golden Hawk Room in Trask Coliseum, called ‘Sprint to Save UNCW Track and Field.’ Additionally, the Save UNCW Track and Field 5K will be held on Sunday, April 26th at Mayfaire Shopping Centre, beginning at 8 a.m.

The link to sign up for the 5K can be found here:

Local businesses have also been very supportive of the team’s fundraising efforts, with Beach Bagel, Wilmington Taco Factory, and Papa Johns all donating a proceeds of their sales to those patrons who designate their receipts to Save UNCW Track and Field. Papa Johns is also doing a special where people who order and use the promo code UNCWTRACK receive 20% off their order while another 20% goes toward the team’s fundraising. 

The response to the UNCW track & field teams has been positive overall, with many people stepping up to voice their support for the Seahawks. Given a renewed future and with a set goal in mind, the team is focused on making their presence felt in the coming month and a half.

“I think the response to the news that we had a chance of keeping the team has been very positive,” Riemer said. “It has provided extra motivation this season. We are fighting to keep the program by not only fundraising, but proving we deserve to stay by our performances on the track. For a lot of programs this would have been an overwhelming distraction and track performances would suffer. The team has risen to the challenge and want to prove to the athletic department how valuable we are.”