High school director puts team on right track
By: Rick Northrop
Published on: January 23, 2008, The Calgary Herald
Ernest Manning High School has seen a track and field resurgence over the last year under athletic director Marco Pengue.
Before Pengue took over a year ago, the school didn't have an organized track team. A few students went to track meets but there was nothing formal. He had to dig up money for equipment for the team and persuade students from other sports to try out.
"Right away I said we are going to have it this year. That was my first response, but I knew it was going to take a lot of work," said Pengue.
Enrolment at Ernest Manning is relatively small so he had to be flexible with attendance at practice. Some students couldn't make it out every time because of commitments in other sports. Sceptics said track and field was too much of a niche sport and wouldn't get off the ground. "My philosophy has always been it's all relative, what's major and what's minor," said Pengue. Bit by bit, Pengue brought together enough participants for a team.
"First and foremost, I had to get students interested . . . and then I had to get the staff on board as well," said Pengue.
Still, the team lacked equipment. The Ernest Manning parent council donated $3,000, enough for basic equipment including a couple of starting blocks and four shot puts. Nobody, not even Pengue, could have predicted the success Manning would have in its first season.
In one year the Griffins went from not fielding a team to being the sixth best track team out of 28 involved in city finals -- and that's without a senior girls contingent. Pengue's Midas touch extends to cross-country running, where Manning students took fourth at cities. He's hoping for a top five placing at the city championships in 2008.