Last summer, Largo track and field Coach Darryl Hamilton was on the track coaching his local youth team when the work crews first showed up. “We knew they were coming, but we didn’t know what day,” Hamilton said. “We were just like, ‘Go ahead, do what you’ve got to do.’”
Hamilton, the school’s track coach for the last 18 years, was the last person who was going to get in the way. He gladly stopped practice as they began to tear up the old asphalt track, original to the school built in the late 1960s.
“They kept saying we were on the list,” Hamilton said. Year after year, he was told, the project had moved up the list. But, he was also told, the money made available each year fluctuated, so no one could ever give him a date.
The school stopped hosting track events in the 1980s because of the condition of its track. In the meantime, Hamilton’s runners learned where the potholes were as they did their best to practice. Spikes were never worn during practice, because they would tear up chunks of the track and damage the shoes. Falls were always tough, Hamilton said. Runners might expect one scratch only to find themselves covered in bits of asphalt and scarred with road rash. “We just ran in our flats and prayed that we would do all right when we got to the meets,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton wanted better for his athletes, and spent years pressing for a new track. “We’ve been doing it for about six or seven years,” he said. “Our parents, our alumni and some of the kids went to Annapolis and talked to the senators about it.”
Over the years, people associated with the team have attended numerous county council and board of education meetings. Finally, last year, Hamilton said, Maryland Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s) helped the county secure a $90,000 state grant, and with matching funds from the county board of education, the new track was finally approved.
“The other track was really messed up,” said senior Warren Graham, 18. “But we still put in hard work that’s what made us who we are today. The track didn’t really matter. To me training is training; if you put in hard work then you can get it done.”
That being said, the new track “feels way better to run on” a beaming Graham said with a laugh before putting away his hurdles.