Brenau University continues to expand its athletic program with the addition of women’s outdoor track and field, which will begin competition as a varsity sport in the spring of 2013.
Athletic Director Mike Lochstampfor already is interviewing candidates for the new head coach position for the team and the university will begin immediately recruiting athletes. He said starting a track and field program was a logical next step for Brenau.
“It is a sport that is gaining in popularity on the national level,” Lochstampfor said. “I look forward to seeing the many new athletes that this sport will add to the Golden Tiger family. I believe it will be a great fit for our university, and I have no doubt that it will be as successful as the rest of the sports we currently sponsor.”
Track and field will become the ninth varsity sport for the Golden Tigers, balancing the athletic opportunities offered within each competitive season. Brenau already fields teams in soccer, cross country and volleyball in the fall; basketball, swimming and cheerleading in the winter and tennis and softball in the spring. All compete well in the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics. The Brenau softball team, for example, recently ranked 5th nationally in the NAIA pre-season poll.
There are 163 track and field programs in the NAIA, and more than 500,000 athletes compete at the high school level. However, within the Southern States Athletic Conference, of which Brenau is a member, only five schools participate in track and field: Emmanuel College, Shorter University and Truett-McConnell College in Georgia; Lee University in Tennessee and Loyola University in Louisiana.
By SSAC standards, that is a relatively small group. In comparison, 15 SSAC schools sponsor women’s basketball teams, 13 have softball and soccer, 12 compete in volleyball, and 10 have intercollegiate tennis teams. As an early arrival to the sport in the Southeast, Brenau should be at an advantage in recruiting, Lochstampfor said.
Brenau research indicates that there are many athletes in Georgia who would like to have the opportunity to compete at the small-college level. “Those would be really good student-athletes for us,” he said. “They are going un-recruited, and this is a void we can fill.”
There will be some crossover with the Golden Tigers cross country team, which is enjoying increasing success. Brenau freshman Brittany Aikens is the first Golden Tiger to qualify for the NAIA national championships. In the national competition last week she finished 7th among SSAC runners who were invited to the competition and 242nd in a field of the best 323 runners in the nation ¬ an impressive showing for a freshman, Lochstampfor said.
Although Brenau traditionally draws heavily from Georgia, Lochstampfor said Brenau will “go out and vigorously recruit” student-athletes in other parts of the United States as well as internationally, where Brenau has had considerable success in attracting blue-chip players in other sports.
Lochstampfor anticipates that the track and field team being among Brenau’s largest. His target for the first year is 15 to 20 athletes with an ultimate goal of between 20 and 30. The number of scholarships – and the level of aid that will be available – has not been determined, but he said it would be consistent with the scholarships awarded on other teams of that size and consistent with cross country as well.
Since Brenau athletes historically are among the top academic performers in the university, possibilities for academic scholarships will also be attractive to potential track and field athletes.
Brenau hopes to have a coach in place by the spring of 2012 and is already in discussions with several candidates, Lochstampfor said. The new coach would work closely with cross country coach Susan McIntyre.
Although Brenau does not have a track on campus, Lochstampfor said Riverside Military Academy and high schools in the area have been receptive to allowing the Golden Tigers to use their facilities. Since a majority of the meets will be out of town, he said, “I don’t anticipate having a challenge finding a venue we could call home.”
Any potential recruits interested in being part of this new, exciting program should contact Mike Lochstampfor, Athletic Director, at (770) 534-6231 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.