A fresh set of eyes on the track prize


Reagan Zuniga

JUMPING FAR: Senior Abbey Smith completes a triple jump in the district track meet. Coach Benson specializes in coaching this event along with long jump and has helped these athletes place at this district meet.

Corinne Piorkowski, Sports Editor

Coaching a sport requires many different skills to win games and form relationships with players. When coaching multiple sports, these skills have to be strategically applied to fit the new one, and requires a diligent person to complete the challenge.

Vickie Benson is the head girls’ basketball coach, and in light of this year, has taken on a new coaching job for varsity track.

“My favorite part about being a coach, specifically in high school, is that I get a chance to push and encourage young female athletes beyond what they think they are capable of,” Benson said. “I believe we all have more to give and that we should never settle for less than our best.”

Benson has been a coach for basketball, volleyball, and track for 20 years, which makes her credible for athletes because of that experience.

“I have always coached two sports during my time at Bowie since 2010,” Benson said. “Sports in high school for me was how I got through some really tough times.”

In track, Benson helps out with various drills and workouts that are specifically designed to help runners in certain events.

“Coach Benson joining has made practicing go by faster just because the coaches have extra hands to help with drills and stations,” junior runner Ashley Salas said.

Specifically, Benson coaches the field events like long and triple jump in addition to helping out overall.

“Most of the time, these kids are really athletic, I just need to hone in on their technique,” Benson said. “They are usually pretty motivated to be really good, so I just need to help them figure out how to be their best.”

In track, practices look slightly different than other sports, since it’s all outdoors and every person is practicing something different.

“A typical track practice is we start at 5 p.m., we warm up and depending on the day we either have an easy workout with stations or sprints,” Salas said. “Right now I run the 4×200, open 200, 4×400, and sometimes the 4×100.”

For the team, this year has required many adjustments, excluding adding a new coach to the staff.

“This year has definitely been challenging for everyone, but practices have been different this year,” junior runner Ellie Dusterhoft said. “We have to wear our masks and run with them, which takes some getting used to.”

Even though Benson has other coaching experience, there are big differences between coaching track and basketball.

“Track is different because it is really easy to determine who runs or completes in different events,” Benson said. “In basketball it’s mainly based on judgment calls and who I think will produce from day to day from what I see in practice regularly; there are so many mental and physical components to work through in basketball.”

Adding Benson to the track staff has allowed for more experience for the runners in practice and in meets.

“Having Coach Benson at practice has helped me in meets because of the drills she has introduced at practice,” Dusterhoft said. “As a hurdler, there are specific techniques needed to succeed and Coach Benson helps me achieve that.”

From the runners’ perspectives, Coach Benson has adjusted well to being a new coach in their sport.

“I think Coach Benson fits in great with the other coaches this year,” Salas said. “She is a multi-sport coach so it probably took no problem for her to fit in, as she already has experience working with athletes.”

As a sport, track is one that is personal to each athlete and requires individual work to succeed among peers.

“I started running hurdles in middle school and I have worked very hard to get onto varsity,” Dusterhoft said. “I have put in a lot of work to get where I am and I love the sport very much; I want to continue it for as long as I can.”

At meets, there are many opportunities for runners to meet and interact in between races.

“My favorite part about running track is the social aspect of it for sure,” Salas said. “Everyone there is so kind and relatable, the memories you get out of track practices and track meets are amazing.”

For Benson, the experience of coaching a new sport has been both an unforgettable and beneficial one, especially during a pandemic and mostly remote learning.

“I can’t imagine if I was coaching volleyball during this time and how I would have been able to give the basketball players my best effort,” Benson said. “I have enjoyed getting to know the track athletes; I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

Overall, Benson finds joy in coaching high school student athletes and helping them reach their fullest potential, even if they believe it is beyond reach.

“I went into coaching because I wanted to challenge and inspire young athletes to be more than they ever hoped or imagined they can be,” Benson said. “When you can wrap your mind around that, you are capable of so much more.”