By Joe Kutner
Ryan Gallagher is a junior at Tulane University. He has a PR of 15:45.29 in the 5000-meters, and 33:44 in the 10,000-meters.
Ryan's running career began at Brother Martin in New Orleans. After graduating in 2000, he moved on to Tulane as a walk-on, but in April 2002, the university cut its men's track and field program. He is also a coach at Cabrini High School. He was the top collegiate finisher at the 2003 Crescent City Classic.
1. Ryan, its been one year now since Tulane cut men's track and field to make way for Title IX regulations. Do you feel that you are a better runner than you were last April?
Yeah, I do. But that's the normal progression I guess. So are my teammates. I think it has everything to do with just being a stronger runner after two years of collegiate track and cross experience. I came in way over my head as a freshman, improved a little my sophomore season. I made my biggest jump this season. I've heard from or read what a lot of coaches have said, and one thing that seems to be repeated is that a lot of coaches don't expect much from their runners until after their sophomore seasons. Especially for someone who is not a stud. It took me a while to buy into that, but I think it's true. I just have a lot more confidence after a few seasons.
2. How tough was it to get yourself to continue running despite not having a "team" to work with?
Not hard at all. I'm working to get better for the upcoming cross season. I set goals for myself that I haven't achieved yet. That's motivation enough. I just love to run. I do this for myself and my teammates. I'm running solo right now, but it'll pay off for the team next fall, so that's in the back of my mind as well. Of course there are days where it's frustrating because of the lack of a team dynamic, but I know everyone else in the country is training and racing right now, so I have to keep working hard if I want any chance to compete. Like my teammate Adam always says, "this (running) is what we do."
3. You recently competed as a member of the "Tulane Track Club." Is this a serious attempt to build a club program at Tulane, or is it more or less a substitute for the old program?
It's basically a replacement for the team. It's everybody left over from last year's track team that stayed. There's been talk of developing a club with the help from sponsors, but I think it's just that - talk. But Coach Patchell has been good enough to work with me during the spring, giving me workouts and stuff.
4. Now that most of your teammates have transferred, who have you been training with?
I've been training alone mostly. Will is recovering from a stress fracture, and Adam is concentrating mostly on being crazy in his last semester. Clement, our 800-meter guy, is training as well, so I do some stuff with him on the track occasionally. Sometimes I see Solomon running around, but he wouldn't be caught dead with me on a run. He's too fast. I mean, who are we kidding? The guy's a former All-American.
5. Who has been coaching you? Has the transition from Coach Bazil's approach been difficult?
Jim Patchell has taken over as the distance coach. He provides the workouts, which are basically modified versions of Arkansas' stuff, where he used to coach. The training isn't all that different from Bazil's. The workouts differ from my first two seasons with Coach Bazil, but they are both cut from similar philosophies it seems. Both are good, they've both produced results. The transition has been fairly easy, really.
6. What are your plans for the rest of this season? Do you intend to continue races on the track, and what distance will you concentrate on?
I have a few races scheduled for the spring. I've run two, and I have plans for about three more. I was planning on concentrating on the 10k originally, but I can't find any meets nearby that offer it where I could afford to travel to. So I'm sticking with the 5k.
7. What are you plans after this season? How has the sport of track and field "let you down," if at all?
After this season, I'll start summer training for the cross season. No way, track and field hasn't let me down at all. If anything, I owe the sport. I consider myself privileged to be involved in this sport - it's so awesome. I'm disappointed in the interpretations people have used to comply with Title IX and achieve "gender equity." But track and field is getting screwed over the most. It's the first true sport - an Olympic sport - and the general public only cares about it every four years. The results of title ix compliance are disappointing too. Guys here, at St. John's, Vanderbilt, all over the country, have been robbed of an opportunity to compete in track and field. I mean, come on, how is that gender equity? It's blatant reverse discrimination. Pass by the track one day and see how Title IX is being used to "comply at Tulane." It's a joke. The men got robbed of an opportunity, and there's women over here now who have no business competing at the collegiate level who have taken the men's spots. We've got girls on the team that won't ever run in a meet, but they take up a roster spot to "increase participation." I'm bitter about the decision, obviously. I'm disappointed in the response to Title IX, it isn't fair. Fortunately, running is something that I can do with or without a team. I think title ix is a valid law that should be applied, but it isn't being handled responsibly.
8. If everything in life happens for a reason, what would be the "reason" Tulane cut track?
What good might have come from this change? That's tough. I'm not sure what that reason is. Since the program was cut, I've realized how lucky I am to be involved in this sport. I griped a lot about this decision, and it's still a sore subject (see the above response). But now I realize that I'm lucky to ever have been given the opportunity to run for Tulane. Not everybody gets this chance; I'm fortunate that I've had this experience while in college. Maybe it's a test in adversity. When the chips are down, how am I gonna respond? Man, that sounds so cliche, but I think there's something to that. I also have a greater respect for how awesome my teammates are. Those guys are so inspiring to me. When I see how much they love to run, it makes me want to work that much harder. After last spring, I'll never take for granted my opportunity to run at Tulane.