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Rowse’s unflinching spirit made track program a reality

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GROTON — As Rebecca Rowse enters her senior year at Lawrence Academy, her fourth varsity track season will have a special significance to her.

When attending Bromfield School as a seventh- and eighth-grader, Rebecca whet her appetite in track by competing on the Lady Trojans’ strong track and field team. She enjoyed a measure of success as an eighth-grader, competing in the State Meet as a member of the 4 X 100 relay team.

“That was when I really started to love track,” said Rebecca.

Rebecca decided to attend Lawrence Academy, but ironically the school didn’t have a track team, something Rebecca decided to change.

“In the fall I had to fill out a form telling which sports I wanted to play,” said Rebecca. “When I decided to go I knew there was no track team, but I talked with my mother Anne Marie about starting one.”

Anne Marie met with Lawrence Academy athletic director Kevin Wiercinski.

“I said it was possible but difficult,” said Wiercinski. “I wasn’t going to force a program down the school’s throat if no one wanted to run it, although I thought the makeup of our kids would make for a good track team. We also have no track so it was going to be somewhat difficult logistically. Rebecca’s mom turned that information over to Rebecca and she was happy to do the legwork.

“We met early in her freshman year and discussed all of the issues and bases we had to cover,” said Wiercinski. “Essentially we left it like this — Rebecca had to drum up all the interest and “recruit” the team. I would take care of the staff and getting the team admitted to the league once we had enough kids to move forward.”

“Kevin told me to send out e-mails and find out how many kids would be interested,” said Rebecca. “And he told me to bring me the list when I was finished. There is a program called ‘Student News’ and I contacted the kids through that. I got about 15 replies, including both boys and girls.”

Rebecca took the list to Wiercinski and in the spring about 20 kids showed up for the first day of practice.

“In the first year, we had about 16-20 kids and ran only a few meets as kind of a trial and exhibition season,” said Wiercinski.

All of the meets were on the road and the team practiced on the soccer field.

“We did a lot of sprinting early and things started slowly, but we picked up momentum as the season rolled along,” said Rebecca. “It was just great to have a track team.”

Rebecca’s two years of varsity track at Bromfield came in handy.

“I was basically a third coach and I really enjoyed it,” she said.

After the fledgling season, the track program continued to progress.

“We got two new coaches who had run track in either high school or college,” said Rebecca. “There were more kids interested and we got some practice time at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School. We started out in a ‘we don’t really know what we are doing’ mode, but by the end of the second year we became a competitive track team. We were still more of a track team than a track and field team, but we started to get more competitive, including some kids placing at the state meet.”

“In the next couple of years we pushed to 30 kids,” said Wiercinski. “We compete in the ISI and NE meets and have a coaching staff of three faculty members. Rebecca has pulled this thing together more quickly and more successfully than I could have imagined. She is a great girl with a huge heart.”

Rebecca, who is gearing up for her fourth soccer season as fall approaches, competes in the 100 meters, the 200 meters and on the 4 X 100 relay team in spring track.

“Track and field has gained more interest each year,” she said. “Being on the team has become a choice that kids want to make. I wouldn’t have done anything differently and I am looking forward to my senior season.”