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The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Drake track team home to a plethora of geographic  diversity

Outside Drake Stadium. Photo by Nikalaus Huerter

The Drake men’s and women’s track teams are full of diversity, with runners from around the world competing in the upcoming Drake Relays. 

The Drake Relays brings in numerous competitors from around the world to Des Moines, Iowa, showcasing their athleticism to thousands of onlookers. In 2022, ticket sales were at a record high of 14,504, according to Drake Athletic Communications. Participants range from high school to college to Olympic athletes who seek to compete in one of the top track and field events in the nation. 

Drake’s men’s track and field team has eight athletes from different countries, and the women’s team has 12 athletes. This is around a quarter of the team (24% for men, 36% for women). 

Brooke Mullins is a junior transfer student from Australia who will be competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase during the Drake Relays. 

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“Back home, track and field and cross country is a very individual sport, but here we work as a team and foster a team culture,” Mullins said. “Everyone on the team is supportive and are trying to achieve goals.”

Athletes have discussed challenges coming to school in the U.S. such as the visa process, long Zoom calls with various coaches, NCAA eligibility requirements, tests and transcripts, all during a pandemic which limited travel. 

“I took two summer classes to be NCAA eligible, and luckily, weaved through Australia’s [strict] border restrictions during COVID to acquire my visa,” Mullins said.

Tyla Lumley, a sophomore transfer student, is also from Australia but is currently injured and will not be able to compete in the Relays. “There was a very long process of finding the right school and lots of zoom calls with lots of coaches, as well as the visa process,”  Lumley said. “Because of COVID, the travel process was super difficult, but it all worked out.” 

Sophomore athlete Chiara Belfico from Italy enjoys the Drake community and close connections.

 “Drake was small compared to other universities. It’s easier to connect with people and professors,” Belfico said. “I like that here you can always have someone to run with or train in general. And I love that we have an athletic trainer and treatments always available. Back home if I want a massage or I want to do an ice bath I have to go to a specific place and pay for the entrance fee.”

Training materials are not the only thing Belfico would be paying for back home.

“Here [at Drake University] it is very different from back home. In Italy we don’t have collegiate teams [or] sports,” Belfico said. “University is just something apart, you go there just for classes and then you go back home. Sports are separated, and each city has multiple teams that you can decide to join [and pay for it].”

Junior Anastasia Kirillov found the level of structure on teams in the U.S. to be a big surprise. She also found that being recognized as a member of a sports team at Drake was equally surprising.

“There are lots of different personalities on the team, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses,” Kirillov said. “Getting to know how other athletes approach the sport and life has really helped me. I was very surprised coming here that teams have that much structure, and there is so much to being on a team outside of practice and that being on a sports team is actually something well regarded and recognized by the university.”

Drake track athletes are looking forward to watching their teammates compete this April as well as participate in the numerous activities and festivals on campus.  

“Seeing so many people celebrate the sport, I think the combination of track and field events with general campus festivities gives an opportunity for our sport to be more visible,” Kirillov said. “Even though here in the U.S. track and field is way way bigger than at home as a sport, it still lacks visibility compared to other sports.”

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