Bellefonte Area High School’s indoor track and field program helps prepare student-athletes for competitions, other athletic events
Coach Seth Miller (right)
Track and field is often identified solely as a spring sport. But for several years, the program has been able to support an indoor track and field season as a club held during the winter, to help prepare student-athletes for the upcoming outdoor season – not just in track and field, but other athletic endeavors, as well.
The two-part approach to the indoor season includes a competitive piece and subsequent workout sessions tied to strength, conditioning and technique.
The district’s Director of Public Relations was able to connect with Head Coach Seth Miller to learn more about the indoor season and its importance to helping its student-athletes grow athletically.
Question: What is the purpose of the indoor track and field program?
Answer: From our perspective, our indoor track and field program is to prepare our student-athletes for the outdoor season. In addition, it gives students the opportunity to work out. So, we’re listed as a club program, which means we’re not funded by the school district – as coaches we volunteer, we don’t give out varsity letters – but we have kids who, based on their preference, want to compete in the indoor competition season. If they don’t, then they can still come to work out with the program. But for some students, they use it as a way to prepare themselves for the outdoor season.
Q: How many students participate?
A: Over the past couple years, it averages about 12-18 that actually compete, but we also have numbers from the upper-20s to mid-40s that come to work out on a day-to-day basis. And it’s open to anyone who wants to workout. We do specific track and field drills and conditioning, but we have some individuals that play lacrosse and some kids that play baseball that get in condition with us, so it’s really open to anyone in the school who wants to workout. They don’t just have to be with track and field. There are two entities – the competition of indoor track and field, and the working-out part of it.
*There was no indoor track and field season in the 2020-21 school year due to pandemic restrictions.
Q: Take me through these workouts.
A: Right now, we’re practicing four days a week and typically we lift two of those days. The groups coach (Chris) Freidhoff and I are with – sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers, pole vaulters – lift two days a week, condition once a week and work on some technique drills for just under two hours a day. As a group, we get together at the beginning of workouts and warmups together, and then split up into groups that also include distance runners who go out with their coach, and throwers who work with coaches (Stacey) Schellenberg and (Pat) McDermott. Typically, all of our groups try to lift two days a week, and then get conditioning and technique workouts, as well.
Q: Are any meets organized throughout the indoor season for those kids who want to compete?
A: Yes. This year we go to three indoor meets that are local at Penn State. In the past, we went to additional meets at Susquehanna University. Things didn’t work out for us from a coaching perspective this year with the Susquehanna meets, so we are just going to three meets at Penn State. We had one in December and the next one is Thursday (Jan. 27) at Penn State and one in mid-February. They’re all hosted by State College Area High School and allow us the chance to compete at the nicest indoor facility in the state.
*Indoor track and field is supported by the PIAA, but does not sponsor the championship, which is instead run by the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association. In the past, BAHS students have qualified for states. To see Bellefonte Area student indoor records, see this document: BAHS indoor records
Q: You mentioned the indoor season is just considered a club. What is the difference between a club and a school-funded program like it is in the spring?
A: The financials are a big part. The booster club supports all of our entry fees and any required transportation for the indoor season. Another aspect is that we don’t give out any varsity letters for indoor track.
Q: Has the indoor program been something offered to students annually?
A: It’s transformed and morphed over the past few years. Ten years ago, there was a lot smaller in participation numbers. We’d have around 10 kids at workouts and it wasn’t a school-approved club-program at that point. That was before the club-program idea came about. Financially, our booster club could not afford to support our entry fees at the time. Therefore, the student-athletes had to pay their own entry fees. But it transformed for the better to get more participation and recognition in the school by being under the club name. But, yes, we have done this for years.