Colleen Coyne stood on the edge of Sacred Heart's new athletic field as she thought back to one of her first track meets. The 2012 graduate and current assistant coach vividly recalls standing in line, waiting to test her speed against her peers.
"I remember some girls complaining about how their track had cracks in it," Coyne said with a smile. "We were talking to them and they asked us 'how's your track?' "
"What track?," Coyne asked.
"The track you run on," the girls replied.
"Oh," Sacred Heart's newest freshman said. "We don't have a track. We have a parking lot."
And that wasn't a joke. Until two weeks ago, when Sacred Heart christened a shiny new track, the squad practiced in the parking lot of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul -- located across the street from the school.
Coach Eugenia Bradshaw would organize workouts by marking distances with a measuring wheel. While the coach tried her best to be exact as possible, sometimes immovable objects -- such as the dreaded parked car -- would get in the way.
"If I was doing 150s and someone parked there, it would turn into an 80," Bradshaw said. "If they were having religious education at the church, I knew I couldn't do certain workouts on those days."
For Bradshaw's athletes, the parking lot workouts quickly became a way of life.
"We'd run down the block and do our warmup," sophomore Mary Kate Kenny said. "When we got to the parking lot, we'd do drills to work on our form. Then we'd run a couple of different distances, like 200 repeats."
Although the crew got used to parking lot practice, the news that the track, almost five years in the making, was finally ready came as welcome news -- as well as a surprise to some.
"I didn't expect it to be ready for me to run on," senior Rosalie Caracciolo said.
Caracciolo, who won the 800 at last weekend's Knight-Time Invitational in Uniondale in two minutes, 26.37 seconds, instantly felt a difference on the new running surface.
"The turns in the parking lot kind of strained your knees a bit," she said. "Now, the turns are more gradual. It's easier on your feet."