Combining the teams makes a coach’s job more difficult, as there are more athletes stationed at a particular station (high jump, hurdles, etc.) during practice. Colbert calls it a “good problem”, one which caused him to reorganize his coaching staff. He now has three assistants, each of whom has a particular strength. Boys captain Michael Theberte says it even brings out the best in the athletes.
“The coaches have been awesome,” Theberte said. “I don’t know how they do it, but they find a way to work with everyone. It’s not 1-on-1, but it’s as close as it’s ever been even though the groups are bigger.”
Theberte has also noticed that the veteran athletes have taken on some coaching duties this season.
“The real good thing is it’s not only a coach and athletes together,” Theberte said. “It’s boys working with girls, and girls working with boys. We share whatever we can if we notice someone needs help. We communicate with each other outside of school. It’s really helped a lot.”
The “one team” philosophy has also spurred greater inter-team competition. Although the girls and boys will never compete in the same events during meets, Darsney says it does not prevent them from racing in practice.
“Probably the speed at practice is the biggest change,” Darsney said. “The boys go faster, and the girls tend to want to pick it up too. Let’s beat the boys. It’s competition, but it’s fun competition.”