Thompson track program awarded $5,000 grant

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – The Thompson track and field program is in the midst of one of its best seasons in school history and continues to set personal records in every event it runs in.

With the season nearing an end and a state championship on the team’s mind, the program was awarded a $5,000 grant from Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, to help make continued improvements to the program moving forward.

“This is going to be fantastic for our track program,” said Thompson track and field head coach Chris Schmidt. “It’s going to help us go a long way when it comes to travel and obviously with improving our equipment. We are extremely excited about this.”

Being a non-revenue sport, Schmidt joked that he wouldn’t have to nickel and dime everything with fundraisers to help raise money for the program now.

Ward, who competed in track and field in high school and ran in the 1,600-meter run, the he 3,200-meter and the 1,600-meter relay, said he was happy to help the program move forward.

“I have a soft spot for track and field and know this program can use the money to get much needed improved equipment,” Ward said.

It’s a sport that requires expensive equipment that many don’t realize the cost of.

Pole vaulting equipment itself can cost $1,000-plus, while track hurdles cost around $400 for one hurdle and other pieces of equipment make the total price to give the team the equipment it needs an expensive task.

“We’ll be able to get some more throwing equipment, more javs, more jumping equipment and probably some more speed and agility equipment,” Schmidt said. “It goes a long way. Track and field is a big business nowadays and this grant is going to go a long way.”

The new Thompson High School is currently in the process of having a standalone track and field facility completed with state of the art lighting.

The combination of that facility and the money to purchase improved equipment has Schmidt and his team excited.

“Not too many schools in the state have their own facility,” Schmidt said. “It’s exciting that we’ll have that and it will make things easier for all of the coaches that are currently having to share the field we have right now to practice and compete during the week.”

Thompson hasn’t been able to host any track and field events recently, but will now get that opportunity come next season with two meets already lined up because of the new standalone facility that is expected to be open for the new school year.

“It’s amazing what type of athletes Thompson has produced even with some of the out of date facilities and equipment we have had in the past, but now with all of these new facilities Thompson is blowing up,” Schmidt said. “It already is blowing up, but it’s going to take us to the next level for all athletics.”