Elevating the Culture of CSI’s Cross Country & Track and Field Team
By: Veronica Pistek
Jason McFall, CSI’s newest Cross Country and Track & Field coach, as well as Coordinator of Athletic Operations, is no stranger to the life of a student-athlete.
As coach McFall finishes up paperwork to provide his undivided attention to the interview, one can already sense his passion and urgency to provide the best to CSI’s Athletic Department as he possibly can.
The eager and focused McFall attributed his passion for running and coaching to his own college Track & Field coach, who encouraged him to take a bold chance to follow his dreams.
Now coaching here at The College of Staten Island, the Yonkers native is taking his diverse levels of experience to inspire and train the current runners on his team.
Amongst various coaching positions at universities such as NYU, Lehman College, Concordia College, McFall credits his most fulfilling years at his alma mater, Woodlands High School in Hartsdale.
Serving as a Physical Education teacher and coaching the women’s team at his old high school, the aspiring leader found himself in the perfect position to stay close to coaching, recruiting circles, and remain aware of which schools have the hottest athletes.
Ready to represent a new running community, McFall is encouraging Staten Island athletes to look no further than their own neighborhood for great running opportunities.
With his eyes wide open and his determination guiding him, the Track and Field coach has high hopes that the varsity team will start making a name for itself and for Staten Island within the next few years.
“The more that we are able to be, and now that people can see that Wagner College is not the only place on the island with a Track & Field program, I think we’ll start getting a lot more attention… once we get through this year and are just being as a team, I have hope that we will start to make an impact,” McFall enthusiastically expressed.
With a big trophy displayed on his desk, McFall pointed to how the Ladies Cross Country team took home a win early this September at the Baruch Invitational Meet.
Proving to start the year off on a positive note, the team’s guiding force has a major goal: to create an established and elevated culture for his athletes on campus.
“While the team does not need an overall transformation, it needs an established culture. I am always trying to make teachable moments for the students…There is definitely a need to elevate the program,” McFall explained his goals.
“Especially since it used to be just Cross-Country season for the first two months of school and then it’s a whole year until they are back again. I believe that there is a good mix of inner and outer borough students that can learn from each other, just as the distance runners and sprinters can learn from one another.”
An exceptionally driven and inspiring leader, coach McFall does not take credit for much of the motivation and dedication that the student athletes have been displaying.
Though he expresses to his team that accountability for one’s actions is key, his athletes are taking the initiative on their own to get better as students and runners.
While wiping tears from his eyes, McFall was not afraid to express his emotion and excitement that the team already has been proving themselves as a group of leaders.
“There are leaders that are here, it is not just a social club…I receive texts every morning from my students telling me that they ran five miles. The freshmen are beginning to take initiative, and the upperclassmen are taking initiative to bring them to campus. I am very excited and overwhelmed with emotion from their response. I treat them like family, just as I treated my old teammates like a family.”
McFall’s passion combined with the small successes of the team so far have set the tone for the upcoming seasons for the Dolphin runners, and the impact that the running scene at CSI will have upon the youth on Staten Island.
“It is paramount to start inspiring the next generation, it can spark a conversation initiate the fire for younger runners.”
Overall, the humbled coach credits the great facility, staff, families, leaders, and runners for the great things that are going to come along in the future.