By Tammy Whaley
USC Upstate University Communications
Spartanburg, S.C. – As the sun begins to peek over the University of South Carolina Upstate campus, members of the track and field team can be seen on the horizon. They run every day for nearly an hour and their runs take them all over the 330-acre campus onto the Palmetto Trail and to the Milliken campus.
"I think you push through, you get yourself in a good mindset, a strong, healthy one, mind and body, and there is always going to be a light at the end of the tunnel so just keep pushing forward," said Griffin Eubanks, a senior distance runner who is majoring in physical education.
Eubanks, along with members of the track and field team and their coaching staff, all hope that a track facility to call their own will soon be a realized dream.
USC Upstate cleared the first hurdle on November 14 when the Spartanburg County Council agreed to amend the 20-year agreement with how the University's five soccer fields are managed. Deputy County Administrator Jim Hipp said county council agreed to reduce the number of fields being actively used for soccer to four.
Freeing up the fifth soccer field makes room for the proposed track complex that will include a soccer field on the interior and lighting for the complex to be added during a later phase of the project. USC Upstate will raise private money to fund the $3.5 million project, which still needs to be reviewed by the USC Board of Trustees and incorporated in South Carolina's capital improvement project plan. The projected date for completion of project funding and approvals to begin construction is fall 2018.
"I am so thankful to the Spartanburg County Council for reaching an amendment to our agreement that ensures fair use for Spartanburg County Recreation, USC Upstate athletics and USC Upstate students," said USC Upstate Interim Chancellor Mary Anne Fitzpatrick. "Bringing a track complex to campus will provides suitable accommodations for our NCAA Division I team while providing opportunities for community use."
Having a track facility on the USC Upstate campus would be a huge asset to the student-athletes who must trek to Spartanburg Day School and Spartanburg High School twice weekly for workouts they fit in between afternoon classes and study halls. A new facility would be extremely advantageous in recruiting student-athletes and coaching staff. In addition, a track facility can significantly impact the economy of the community in many ways, including hosting prestigious track and field events generating revenue for area hotels, restaurants and other businesses from the participants and spectators who come to the events. Local high schools and colleges could also use the facility for track events and community members would be provided a safe place to walk.