Women’s track makes Cabrini history

By Nina Scimenes
March 31, 2005

Cecelia Francisco

Track’s Lady Cavaliers have taken Cabrini to the National level in running. 15 school records have been broken this year by the women’s track team, and it is only the beginning. Last weekend marked the opening of the outdoor season for the Lady Cavs at the University of Pennsylvania. Winning a national title is the common goal that the Lady Cavs plan on reaching in the next few years.

Head coach James Williams is the new driving force behind the women’s team. “If I could turn in my coach of the year plaque for a few more points at nationals I would do it,” Williams said. Recently Williams was named the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Mideast Region Indoor Track Coach of the Year.

This is his first year coaching at Cabrini, but he is no stranger to the campus. Williams graduated from Cabrini in 1999 and was an essential asset to the start of the track program. He was coached by Tom O’Hora, current men’s track coach. Prior to coaching at Cabrini, Williams was a Division I coach at West Chester University for two years, and three years at Gwynedd-Mercy College.

As a student at Cabrini Williams majored in history and Dr. Girard was a role model to Williams as his professor and also in life situations including sports. Other influential people in Williams’ Cabrini experience was Coach Dzik. During Williams’s time as a Cabrini student-athlete Dzik was the athletic director who encouraged Williams in track. Williams commemorates the time that Dzik has put into Cabrini. “I don’t plan on spending 25 years as coach here, but I’m not leaving until I get a national title,” Williams said.

Williams was responsible for the recruiting process of the current season. He has successfully attracted Division I and II ranked athletes. “It takes a special kid to do it; you have to love the sport. It’s like a part time job here. The NCAA allows us to train 20 hours a week and we train 20 hours a week,” Williams said.

The absence of a track on Cabrini’s campus has been a burden to the team. “It is hard to attract an athlete to take part in a sport that does not have the facilities that are needed,” Williams said. “We really want to stress the importance of getting a track on campus. We really need it,” junior Michelle Phan said. “I chose Cabrini because I trusted Williams opinion of the school since he is an alum,” freshman Sabrina Shaw said.

Shaw of Simon Gratz, Philadelphia, is Cabrini’s first to become All-American. Shaw finished eighth in the 55-meter hurdles at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track National Championships. She finished with the time of 8.52 seconds in the finals.

Charley Dirvin is an assistant coach that trains with Shaw. Ironically Dirvin was Williams high school track coach. That makes it a unique collaboration of coaches on staff at Cabrini. O’Hora was also a former coach of Williams as a running Cavalier.

Diamond Jones was just shy of qualifying for finals in the triple jump event. Jones’ tenth place jump was a leap of 37 feet, 3 inches. “I want to really make it in the outdoor nationals to redeem myself from the indoors finals,” Jones said.

Brian Shells is another assistant coach for the Lady Cavaliers and trains one on one with Jones. “Shells knows a lot about the sport, and I borrow a lot of his training techniques,” Williams said. Shells is a USTF-certified Division II coach specializing in jumps, sprints, and hurdles. His attention to details is a crucial asset to the team. Prior to coaching with the Lady Cavs he was Norristown High School’s jumps and sprints coach for seven years. There Shells lead the team to state championships numerous times.

Freshmen Lauren Deas and Jones both made program history by gaining an ECAC title. Deas won the 55-meter dash with the time of 7.22, breaking her school record. Jones hurdled with a time of 11.69 leaping to the top of competition.

The team has been coming together little by little. It is common in running to set out individual goals, but the Lady Cavs have not lost sight of the team. Teammates have grown close threw the practice and travel time they spend together. “We are dysfunctional, but what family is not,” Phan said. Next year they plan to welcome new talented athletes into the reign of Cabrini’s track team.

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Nina Scimenes

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