Wolf Pack teams find a home off campus


Track and field assistant coach Amani Bryant helps a sprinter with his exercises. The track program practices at East Jefferson High School. Photo credit: Andres Fuentes

Will Ingram


Travel (1).png
A graphic showing the different locations where three different Loyola sports prgrams practice and compete. The track and field program practice at East Jefferson High School in Metairie, the baseball team travels to Segnette Field in Westwego and the tennis teams compete at the tennis courts in City Park. Photo credit: Andres Fuentes

Loyola’s home field advantage is not really home field advantage. With only the basketball, volleyball and swim teams competing in The Den, all other sports have to travel miles away to find their “home field.”

The baseball, tennis and track and field teams are in the midst of their spring competition.

All 100 athletes across the three programs have to balance school work and practice schedules like other student athletes, but with an added time for travel.

image1 (3).jpeg

The baseball team travels across the river to practice and play their home games. The track and field teams head out to Metairie to practice on a high school field and the tennis teams practice on the courts in City Park.

That added time can cut into how many players stay the entire practice or even make practice.

Doug Faust, head baseball coach, said that the team suffers from their long commute.

“Between class schedules and the 30-minute drive each way, we are limited time wise,” Faust said.“They basically have 40 minutes to grab lunch, get to field, change clothes and be ready for practice.”

Outfielder Charlie Seiter, business management senior, has learned to balance playing a sport and being an active student on campus. With active roles in the honors college, a Christian Life Community, Wolf Pack for Life, Catholic Men’s Fellowship and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, he tries his best to schedule classes around practice and his other activities.

“If the classes I need are only offered during practice time, I have to miss practice and make sure I get my work done on my own time,” said Seiter.

Seiter said the hardest time of each academic year is during the baseball season.

“Studying and writing papers on a bus isn’t ideal, but we don’t have a choice. We have to maintain our commitment to baseball,” said Seiter.

The tennis team doesn’t have to cross the river, but they also struggle with off campus practice.

Coach Kyle Russell said the team has to build in an extra hour for the commute in the van that the team fundraised for themselves.

“Even though we practice for two hours, it’s really a three-hour commitment with the commute,” said Russell.

He wishes that there was a closer location because it would not only help with attendance at practice but fans at matches.

“We played one match at Audubon Park on clay courts, and we had a large crowd simply because it was within walking distance,” said Russell.

Russell would like to see hard courts built near or on campus, but he said that, “it’s just not that feasible.”

Despite the rough commute time, Russell still sees the silver lining in the situation.

“The one benefit of the commute is that the players bond, and I also get to know them a little better,” said Russell.

The track and field team has a different way of handling off-campus practice. Head coach Kevin Licht said that practice locations are based on what event the athlete does.

“Our mid-distance and distance group runs around the local parks, streetcar tracks, and neighborhoods. The sprints, jumps and hurdles group is primarily at East Jefferson High School, but occasionally is at the Sports Complex. The throws group splits time at East Jefferson or the Sports Complex,” said Licht.

The distance runners might not have to travel to practice, but they do have early mornings. International business senior Hernan Espinal says that he likes working out at the crack of dawn.

“Practice in the morning is nice because it gets me up and active,” Espinal said. “I usually go to bed between midnight and 1:00 a.m. It depends on my workload.”

If he doesn’t get enough sleep throughout the night, Espinal likes to work in 27-minute naps to make up for the lack of sleep.

Environmental studies senior Shannon Hester is more than just a javelin thrower this year, she also serves as a student teacher. To balance the work and practice load, she treats it like she is back in high school.

“I go to school from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. then practice right after school,” Hester said.

Coach Licht and his assistant coaches help accommodate all the athletes and their schedules, which helps avoid time conflicts and other commitments from interfering with practice.

“The only conflict would be early morning classes, but our coaches work with our athletes in rescheduling any practices that are in conflict with classes,” said Licht.

Licht also said the practices would be the same no matter where they were, at East Jefferson High or in The Den.

Unlike the other teams that do have a “home field,” the track and field team does not hold a home meet.

“I wish that the school held a home meet so that other students can come check us out and cheer us on,” Hester said. “Every other team has a home meet or a meet close enough for everyone to come and support, so it would be nice for the track team to get the same experience.”

Hester’s wishes may come true as the program is looking into hosting a meet in the area next year.

“We’re in the early planning phases, the most important need is interest. I’ve had a few coaches express interest in coming. Our next step is planning the logistics and seeing where we have deficiencies and then solving those problems,” said Licht.

The scoreboard at Segnette Field displays scoreless before Game 2 on March 9, 2019. The baseball team travels to Westwego to play games and practice. Photo credit: Andres Fuentes
International business sophomore Manuela Alban plays at the tennis courts at City Park. The tennis program goes off campus to practice and compete. Photo credit: Loyola New Orleans Athletics
Track and field assistant coach Amani Bryant helps a sprinter with his exercises. The track program practices at East Jefferson High School. Photo credit: Andres Fuentes