One united force: How PV’s girls track and field team has created a sense of purpose in their athletes


Photo taken by Heather Arthofer

Athletes celebrating senior, Mallory Lafever’s success in her individual race.

Hannah Lederman, Multimedia Manager

The Pleasant Valley Girls Track and Field team has just began their indoor season, and they are ready for success on and off the field. The team has had major success over the years, being consecutive conference champs and consistently placing high up in their state meet.

There is something different about this team’s structure. Coaches Kenny and Jane Wheeler put emphasis on building a stronger team in regards to the relationships these athletes have with each other.

Mrs. Wheeler believes achieving these deeper bonds will help the team’s overall success: “We make it a priority to do team building activities; it’s beyond the sport. The more bonded you are with the team, the better they will compete,” she said.

The coaches have created different team bonding activities to achieve this belief. “Once a week we have spotlight drills. This is where we spotlight someone not just for how fast they are but just spotlighting them for being an awesome person, an awesome teammate,” Jane Wheeler said.

They also groups called squads to help draw connection between kids in all facets of the sport: “We put kids in squads for our warm-up groups. We are mixing grades and mixing event types so kids can get to know each other,” Mrs. Wheeler said.

Kenny Wheeler believes the value placed on creating these connections is something that gives the athletes a deeper sense of belonging: “When you are a part of a team and you find that connection, it gives you a deeper sense of purpose,” he said.

When you are a part of a team and you find that connection, it gives you a deeper sense of purpose”

— Kenny Wheeler

It is all about forming the foundations of a bonded team. The coaches strongly feel that this deeper sense of community has majorly contributed to the success this team has had. Kenny Wheeler said, “We try to be intentional with that every day, every year. Even if it’s just making a point to ask how their day was, it just lets them know that they are valued.”

Track and Field is a sport in which it is so easy to be an individual, but these coaches have managed to instill a system that has created one united force. As Kenny Wheeler said, “It’s greater than just what we do on the track.”