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Above: Ray Treacy ’82 talks with several of his
student-athletes at the track.
Below: From left, Heidi and Christopher F. Murphy ’74
with Treacy and Robert G. Driscoll, Jr.

​Ray Treacy Track leaves namesake ‘humbled’

Ray Treacy ’82, the “ultimate Doubting Thomas,” has been silenced, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

For years, Treacy, the veteran coach of the Providence College men’s and women’s cross  country and track teams, had one paramount question for his boss, Robert G. Driscoll, Jr., associate vice president for athletics and athletic director: When would the College be building an outdoor track for his programs?

Last fall, the inquiries and wonder came to a halt when the Ray Treacy Track opened at Hendricken Field. This past April, the yearly running dialogue between Treacy and Driscoll drew laughs when referenced by both at the ribbon-cutting celebration for the track.

Saying that Driscoll might consider him “the ultimate Doubting Thomas,” Treacy called the track “spectacular” and beyond his loftiest expectations.

“I am humbled to have my name attached to this track,” Treacy told the audience of PC colleagues, current and former student-athletes, family, and friends. The guests included his wife, Lisa, and their two sons, Michael and Liam, as well as two sisters, a brother-in-law, and a close friend who all came from Ireland for the occasion.

Treacy added that the perseverance and commitment of many College leaders, including President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 and Driscoll, were “unbelievable” and made a long-time dream a reality.

The Ray Treacy Track, which is now the primary training facility for the Friars’ cross country and track teams, features a six-lane, polyurethane surface and has eight-lane straightaways. The track encompasses a turf field that can be used for soccer, rugby, and other intramural sports. The complex includes seating for more than 300 people, a press box, a scoreboard, and lighting for nighttime use.

In addition to the varsity teams, the track is available to members of the College community and neighbors for walking and running.

Bolstered by a lead gift from former cross country and track student-athlete Christopher F.  Murphy ’74 and his wife, Heidi, the track is the latest in a series of improvements to the campus’ athletics and recreational facilities. The upgrades began in 2005 with the opening of the Lennon Family Field for field hockey and men’s lacrosse.

The Lennon Family Field project was followed in subsequent years by the construction of the Concannon Fitness Center, which includes the Jimmy Walker Weight Room; the new Canavan Sports Medicine Center; the renovation of Joe Mullaney Gym in Alumni Hall, where the women’s basketball and volleyball teams play; and the renovation of Schneider Arena, the home of Friar men’s and women’s ice hockey.

Track meets NCAA, team requirements

Treacy, who just completed his 30th season as the Friars’ head coach, said “no stone was left unturned” in the construction of the new track. He noted the track meets NCAA standards — in fact, PC hosted the facility’s first competition a day after the dedication ceremony with a tri-meet against Bryant University and Stony Brook University — and “is the type of track we need for the type of athletes we have.”

His teams primarily will use the facility for speed and pace workouts. Its spongy surface ensures safe footing and will allow regular use in inclement weather.

Having an outdoor track will support the programs in two key areas, said Treacy, who was a three-time cross country and track All-American at PC. It will preserve precious time for student-athletes in their athletic and academic pursuits since they will no longer have to travel to locations like Brown University for workouts.

Secondly, the track is a boon to recruiting. Whether seeing the track in person or online, prospective student-athletes will more seriously consider PC as a college option and “keep us in the game for winning some of those (recruitment) battles,” said Treacy. 

How much more successful the Friars’ cross country and track teams will be remains to be seen, but Treacy certainly hasn’t let the absence of an exterior training facility obscure his focus. Last fall, his women’s cross country team captured the NCAA Division I Championship for the second time in 18 years. Each time, he was named National Coach of the Year.

During his 30-year career at PC, Treacy has coached 13 NCAA Northeast Regional, 21 BIG EAST, and 20 New England championship teams in cross country. Individually, he has coached 59 All-Americans who have received 166 All-America honors, 13 individual NCAA champions,  43 BIG EAST Conference champions who have earned 112 conference titles, and 11 Olympians.

“It’s beautiful,” he said in summarizing his feelings about the new track. “I couldn’t want for anything else.”

          —Charles C. Joyce

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