Running Through System Loopholes to Take Talent to the Next Level


Image from Montgomery College home page for athletics

Salim Addrey

The Track and Field team here at MC has almost a dozen veteran runners that still compete at the collegiate level, but are unaffiliated with the school when it comes to claiming a brand for themselves.

This system that allows these athletes to compete with other runners is called “running unattached.” Usually, unattached athletes partake in this system because they’ve run out of eligible years to run at a school.

If an athlete participates in a collegiate sport, they have 4-5 years of eligibility if they attend a four-year school directly out of high school. For the community college level, also known as junior college or Juco, they have only 2 years and can complete the remaining 2 years after they transfer to a 4-year school.

A big question for Juco is: what happens if an athlete has not acquired their associate’s but has run out of eligibility? This is specifically where competing unattached comes into play. This provides athletes with the opportunity to train, gain competition experience, and feel a bit more confident about taking their abilities to the next level. This system works only in individual sports and not team sports like football or soccer.

It is not to be confused with redshirting, though. Redshirting is a delay or suspension in an athlete’s participation to preserve their eligibility. This is something a lot of schools do to make sure their athletes can handle college life before adding a sport to their already rigorous courses and schedules. With unattached participation, some or all of the eligibility has been used.

Unattached athletes also have to pay for certain things that the school usually covers for regular athletes. For example, because they are not affiliated with the school they attend, they must provide their own uniforms. They also have to pay for meet and race entry as well. They do still travel with the team, get coached by the same coaches, compete at the same venues, and have the chance to qualify for championships.

Co-Captain Corey Hamilton said, “it is not going to be very different from competing on the regular team, but the only thing I’ll miss is running relays.” He is one of the sprinters who got his 2 Juco seasons done and is staying to get his associate’s degree by the end of this year and transfer. He was a co-captain on the regular team in his 2nd year and being one of the veterans, he helps the coaches by mentoring new athletes on the ins and out of running at MC and beyond.

He works alongside two other co-captains, Brett Evans and Devonte Johnson, who both have also had multiple years of track experience on and off the MC team. They both also hope to transfer and continue their track careers at four-year schools.

For most, it’s the love of running, and for others, it is all about potential opportunities. Running unattached opens up windows that some just don’t get with regular sports and that means the world to these athletes.