These runners are on track for a second national championship.
The men and women of the Kingsborough Community College outdoor track and field teams are confident they’ll repeat as national junior-college champions this year. Only having its athletes for two years makes continued success difficult for the community college, but Kingsborough’s recruiting focus and ability to help Brooklyn athletes gain Division I scholarships keeps a fresh pool of talent coming in year after year, according to the coach.
“We had a great deal of success last year, then lost several major athletes, but that’s where the recruiting focus really comes in,” said Dave Loobie, of Canarsie. “It keeps the program moving forward. That’s my job.”
In May 2017, both the men’s and women’s track and field teams at Kingsborough won the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division III outdoor track and field championships, but there was little time to celebrate for Loobie and his staff. May and June are prime recruiting months, when the coach goes to high schools in Brooklyn, distant Queens and the Bronx, and even further throughout the tri-state area looking for future track stars. He said the school seeks students who want to get Division I scholarships, but might not be ready out of high school.
“We show them that they can use Kingsborough as a stepping stone,” said Loobie. “They come in and pretty much put in more work, focus, and get ready to move on to Division I or II, where they can get a full scholarship.”
The men’s team captain is one of those students. Distance runner and Mill Basin native D’Andre Mighty has received a full scholarship to run the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races as well as cross country at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff next year. Before he goes, he’s confident he’ll be a national champion again because of the team’s rigorous practices.
“This year the warm-ups are a lot longer,” said Mighty. “Last year we only warmed up with a mile. This year we boosted that to three to four miles.”
Loobie said that numerous alumni have gone on to Division I and II scholarships since he took over the coaching reigns in 2000. The relatively small amount of time the coaches and athletes have together forces them to make the most of their practices and meets.
“It’s a short amount of time, which is why we’re big on time management,” he said. “The window is very short.”
Freshman and sophomore athletes alike are confident they’ll win the title in 2018. One freshman hurdler and runner from Canarsie said that while she hopes to win the championship en route to a scholarship of her own, the sport has already helped her get on track off the track.
“I do track because it gives me discipline,” said Nyeira Gordon. “It helps me focus in school and in life.”