The Armory: Arsenal for Success
December 20th, 2006
Without an indoor track facility located near Stuyvesant, the boys’ and girls’ indoor track teams have few choices as to where they can conduct practices. Outdoor runs become uncomfortable with the cold winter weather. Stuyvesant hallways are not wide enough for formal sprinting practices and not long enough for distance practices. The Armory, located on 168 Street and Broadway in upper Manhattan, is the only facility of its kind within a fifty-mile radius of New York City and serves as an indoor track to teams all around the city.
According to the Armory’s Web site, armorytrack.org, the Armory Foundation was created in 1993 to restore it from “an underutilized military installation and overcrowded homeless shelter into a vital resource for the children and people of New York.” Under the leadership of Dr. Norbert Sander Jr. and Michael Frankfurt, the Armory Foundation was able to raise $24 million in public and private funds to transform the Armory into “a world-class track and field facility and a multi-purpose community center.” Today, the Armory is home not only to the New Balance Track and Field Center, but also to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Charles B. Rangel Technology & Learning Center.
The New Balance Armory Track & Field Center is a 60,000 square foot arena, with seats able to hold more than 4,000 people and an Olympic caliper. In 1993, the Armory Foundation was able to install a flat surface 200-meter MONDO track. MONDO has been the official supplier of athletic tracks for the last eight Olympic games. Afterward, a banked track, in which the track is raised around the turns, was constructed on top of the original. Currently, as stated on the Armory’s Web site, “The facility includes a pole vault runway, an eight-lane sprint and hurdle straightaway, two long jump pits, two high jump areas and a shot put area.”
Mark Mendes, coach of the boys’ varsity indoor track team, said the Armory “will take anyone’s money.” At track meets, the Armory requests that all spectators pay to enter the facility. The Armory conducts track meets for all ages, beginning with children as young as five and much older adults. Meets occur on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, leaving only Tuesdays and Thursdays as practice days for the teams.
Although the Armory has many advantages, it also comes with several drawbacks. Freshman Matthew Leiwant called the facility “overcrowded.” Mendes said, “[There are] 500 kids on the track and the kids don’t follow the rules.”
The Armory makes matters worse by renting practice time to non-New York City teams, causing even more overcrowding. Freshman George Kruchin said, “During practices, [the crowd] messes up times.” Therefore, Stuyvesant runners do not always have accurate times for the distances they run.
Another problem that many students complain about is the air at the Armory. “There just isn’t enough air [in the Armory],” said junior Jamie Kim. Senior and co-captain of the boys’ track team Johnnery De Jesus said that the air “makes you want to throw up.” The Armory has very few open windows, creating a humid atmosphere with poor air circulation.
Despite the poor air quality, many Stuyvesant runners still believe that the Armory provides a great track facility. “The positives definitely outdo the negatives,” said Mendes.
De Jesus said, “It feels more official and more competitive.” In addition, he stated that the track’s banked “curve helps you run faster.”
As a sprinter, freshman Vanessa Ventola said, “The Armory’s more intense workout is much more productive for me than running by school at an easier pace for a longer time.”
“It is a great facility,” said sophomore Morgan Browning. “The track is beautiful.”