By Chelsea Commodari | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Thomas Gallitz arrived on campus in 2013, his plan was to play soccer. Two years later, you can find him sprinting short distances alongside the newly established track and field team.
It was upon the recommendation of Track and Field Coach Brian Biel that he tried out for the team.
“During the months leading up to the season, I spoke with a number of the other coaches here at Flagler asking about a potential 400m runner,” Beil said. “Coach Lynch suggested I reach out to Thomas to see if he might be interested in helping us out.”
Gallitz played multiple sports in high school. In fact, he was a 400 meter runner just up the road at Bartram Trail, where Beil had the opportunity to see him race.
Gallitz traded in his soccer cleats for a pair of track spikes with some uncertainty.
“I didn’t know Coach Beil or any of the guys from the team on a personal level, so I was pretty nervous how they would take the news of me joining the team. But at the same time, I became very excited because I was given an opportunity that not many people can say they’ve had,” Gallitz said.
While most of the track and field team is comprised of Flagler’s cross country runners, Beil said Gallitz hasn’t had any problems fitting in with the guys.
“As a group, they understand what he brings to the team and respect the way he works. If you’re a runner and you see another guy busting his hump to get better, he immediately has your respect,” Beil said.
What proved more difficult for Gallitz was the first track practice. Beil threw him in with the team in 400m repeats with a 400m jog recovery, a workload for a sprinter.
“I was just coming off my winter break. I had been giving my body a little rest by not doing much training to stay healthy,” Gallitz said. “When I made the decision to run for the team, let’s just say I wasn’t in the best shape fitness-wise. Mentally I knew I would have to push myself to the limit each day.”
With only one week between their first practice and their first meet, Gallitz knew there was only so much training he could do to prepare himself. Beil believes that Gallitz has already proven himself capable of assisting the program. What will really weigh on the team is how much they can get done in the remaining weeks of the season.
Gallitz would like to reach under 50 seconds in the open 400m event.
As a distance medley relay team, Gallitz has aspirations of qualifying for the national track meet in Birmingham, Alabama on March 13 and 14.
“The first time we raced as a DMR team we came in first place and we brought the gold medal back to Flagler. I believe we made a statement in our very first race as a team that other schools should look out, because Flagler is on a mission.” Gallitz said.
While practices remain draining, and Gallitz remains sore, he feels blessed to be given the opportunity to play both soccer and and track in college. Moving forward, Gallitz says he feels prepared for the challenge.
“I’ve worked with a great set of coaches who instilled a winner’s attitude in me. They trained me to my breaking point and beyond so that I would be successful in the future,” Gallitz said. “I learned a quote back in my high school football days from one of the best coaches I have ever had, Darrell Southerland. He told us day in and day out that it’s not what you get, it’s about who you become.”