Running the show: SUNY-ESF hopes to increase recognition for program with national cross country championship

Illustration by Andy Casadonte | Art Director

SUNY-ESF, in collaboration with the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association, will host the USCAA Cross Country National Championships on Friday.

The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry Athletics Department has really “come of age,” said John View, coach of the ESF cross country team. He said he hopes ESF athletics will no longer be thought of as a lower-level or intramural sports department.

The athletics department at ESF has grown tremendously in the past six years, said View. “If my team gets any bigger, I’ll need 2 buses,” he said.

View originally needed to advertise the cross country team to prospective students, he said, but people are now approaching him about joining.

Though ESF will host its championship off campus, the department hopes to eventually bring sporting events closer to campus at Syracuse University facilities.

“As someone whose job is to bring sporting events into town, I think this is a great event that the school has brought into the area,” said Jeff Mickle, sports development director for the Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau, in an email. “It’s not easy to identify, pursue, secure and execute events of this magnitude.”

Mickle said it’s difficult to say where the money the event brings in will go. It involves a complicated formula that factors in all of the elements, from hotel rooms to travel expenses to shopping and food.

Local business owners are preparing for the event just like they prepare for any large event coming into Syracuse, Mickle said.

“If it isn’t a huge event, most local businesses are already prepared to handle anything thrown their way,” he said.

Emily Martin, a senior environmental science major and captain of the women’s cross country team, said while students are not dismissive of ESF athletics, most students don’t know much about the teams because, like the cross country team, many are relatively new programs.

“Obviously it’s the Nationals, so it’s an exciting time for the team, but since we’re hosting it, it should be a lot more fun,” Martin said.

Timmy Callahan, a senior conservation biology major and captain of the men’s cross country team, said ESF athletics is “definitely not” a popular topic on campus. He said a lot of students got to ESF for academics, but don’t pay as much attention to sports, as students might at other schools.

“I didn’t come here for the sports, I came here because SUNY-ESF is strong academically,” he said. “Sports are just a nice addition to the program.”

Martin and Callahan said they are extremely excited about the upcoming USCAA National Championship event. Callahan said cross country is an underrepresented event at many colleges, but he believes hosting the event will bring recognition to both the sport and ESF.

Said Callahan: “In the few years that I’ve been here, we would go to meets and people would say, ‘What’s ESF?’ But now they say ‘Oh no! ESF is here.’”



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