New tracks a genuine win

A moment of silence for the state’s last two high school tracks made of cinder. Wait. Scratch that. Make it several moments of whooping it up for the beautiful new synthetic tracks at Cascade and Jackson high schools in the Everett School District.

The Cascade High School track opens to the community this Saturday at 1 p.m. with an inaugural “Bruin Mile” to commemorate the opening of the complex and to thank all the individuals who helped make it happen.

One of those people is Cascade track coach Steve Bertrand. He was able to testify about the dismal state of the cruddy cinder from a unique perspective: Bertrand competed on the same track when he first attended Cascade as a freshman in 1970; and there it was when he came back years later as a full-time PE instructor and coach.

In a 2011 Herald article by Jon Saperstein, Bertrand summed up the problem of the cinder tracks: “We’re not just talking about a track issue,” he said. “We’re talking about a whole community issue here. We’re talking about a safety issue … It’s also a parity issue.”

The Cascade track team was training in local parks and driving once a week to Everett Memorial Stadium to practice. When they did use the cinder track, athletes were being injured. Community groups that used the track, such as the Special Olympics and Relay for Life, also had to contend with mud and holes.

In response to the article, Sarah Jenkins, then a Cascade sophomore, wrote a letter to the editor, thankful for the attention to the problem, and hoping for a solution. Hers was the first of many letters from people all over the community calling for new track.

Jenkins wrote: “I take pride in Cascade High School. I take pride in my track and soccer teams and teammates. I take pride in the training work I put in. It would just be nice to take pride in where all of the teams’ work goes in.”

Having that sense of pride is part of the parity equation, too. And it’s important, for the school and neighboring community — a variation of the “broken window theory.” (Or in this case, the “broken ankle theory” due to the many track-induced injuries.) Healthy, safe schools and communities are the goal.

Due to the doggedness of the supporters, the Everett School Board included funding for the new tracks and site planning for future improvements when it voted in July to approve a new district administration building.

That’s teamwork! Everyone involved deserves to take a safe, non-muddy victory lap, or 20.