Perseverance pays off for Oxford athletes

Oxford Junior Josie Stoffan and OHS track coach  Brian Drobnich at the Oxford Invitational in April. Photo by D. Vaglia

By Don Rush
Oxford — The can-do spirit is alive and well in Oxford these days as evidenced by the actions of an Oxford High School student athlete.
“I didn’t really think about it — about track for a long time,” junior Josie Stoffan said. “Then I thought, ‘I don’t know how I am going to run track this year.’ Then I thought, ‘ I am not going to run.”
At issue for Stoffan and other Wildcat track athletes was the use traditional starter pistols for events – the after affects for students who experienced the November 30 shootings at OHS.
“A bunch of us did not want to run,” she said, so she approached head track coach  Brian Drobnich to tell them she and some teammates would not go out for track this season. “We had to convince Coach that pistols could not be fired on the same field Tate (Myre) and Hana (St. Juliana) played on..”
“It was in January when we started conditioning,” Drobnich recalled. “Josie and some of the kids said they would not run because of the starter pistols. I originally said they would just have to get past that. Then, I thought, ‘No, this is real for them.’ So, I talked with Josie and said, ‘Find me a solution.”
And, she did. She found an electronic starting device which recently is being used at indoor track meets. These days the Wildcats track events are started with Clarion LITE Electronic Starting Device, essentially an electronic wand with lights, speakers which sounds the start with a high-pitched sound and a camera stationed at the finish line.
“It works,” Stoffan said. “It is more accurate. There are no false starts. And, there is a lot less stress. I like it a lot better than starter pistols.”
That’s not the only good news Wildcat track athletes received this season. To accommodate Oxford students, the other teams in Oakland Athletic Association agreed to their own home meets in Oxford, eliminating starter pistols all together for the regular season. The next hurdle Coach Drobnich said, will be convincing officials for state meets coming up soon.

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