Track & field coaches look to inspire new traditions

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Claire Gilliland, Editor-in-Chief

Every year, Bear Creek’s track and field hosts an event that brings schools from all over California together to compete: the Port City Invitational meet.

However, this year is different; head coach Jason Johnson stepped down from his position at the end of last year and coaches Lauren Fromm and Eric Vallecillo took over leading the program. For their first year as head coaches, they cancelled the Port City meet.

“With Coach Fromm and myself being new to the program, we needed a little more time to kind of get everything else situated,” Vallecillo said. “We were really just kind of under a lot of pressure, we’re trying to do a lot of different things … and so we were trying to figure out our own way to do it so that we have some sanity.”

“They’re trying to get everything more situated before we go and host something that’s so big and grand as Port City is,” junior Jillian Misa said.
Johnson offered to help the two with the Port City meet, but Vallecillo and Fromm were still hesitant.

“It’s a lot of work and not very many people could help us do it,” Vallecillo said. “It would just be myself and Coach Johnson. We [decided that we] could lose countless hours of sleep or we could cancel the event and focus on what our students need versus us being worried all the time.”

The student-athletes understood the reasons behind the cancellation but were nonetheless not happy with Fromm and Vallecillo’s decision.

“I’m so sad because [I can’t participate in another Port City meet],” senior Linh Phan said.

The Port City meet has been a tradition at Bear Creek since its start and many athletes are disappointed to see it cancelled this year.

“It has been going on for a very long time,” Misa said. “That meet was almost a tradition for us and a lot of us got to see [and compete against] people from all over because it was such a big meet.”

Though it is cancelled this year, Fromm and Vallecillo plan to bring back the Port City meet next year.

“We are considering doing Port City the next year, once we get one [year] under our belt,” Vallecillo said. “The goal is to bring it back the following year, rebrand it as Port City: bigger, … better.”

However, that doesn’t help this year’s seniors, who do not get to participate in a final Port City meet before they graduate.

“It’s [worse] for the seniors this year because we don’t get a Port City before we leave,” Phan said. “It’s usually the biggest meet and … our favorite meet of the season because it’s at home and there’s always … a lot of teams that come from California.”

Other than Port City’s cancellation, Fromm and Vallecillo have not changed much about meets from previous years.

“Miss Fromm has been doing a very good job of trying to incorporate more of the qualification meets for a big meet [like] Arcadia,” Misa said, referring to one of the biggest high school-level meets in the country. “We didn’t get so many last year and she’s definitely doing a great job at that.”

Misa has also noticed that the cancellation of Port City this year has affected the track team as a whole.

“It was very important to us but now that it’s not there we’re all kind of having no motivation because it was so fun for us,” Misa said. She did, however, recognize alternate reasons for this lack in motivation. “A lot of our seniors that left last year were part of the heart and soul of the team … They were really good mentors to us … and I’ve seen some of that motivation leave within myself and other people [since they graduated].”
Despite any negative reactions from students, Vallecillo remains optimistic about this year’s track and field program.

“I think that’s the same thing with Port City … people were just used to it, parents were really used to it,” Vallecillo said. “Whatever kind of tradition that we start, Coach Fromm and I, that will become the new norm, and people will get used to it, people will understand.”