- This is Poly
Bridgette Ingram’s high school basketball coach was awed at how fast she ran and told the track coach, who commanded Bridgette, “You’re joining the track team!”
Ingram, Track & Field coach at Poly since 2018, began her high school career with hurdles and then high jump, long jump, shot put, and 800M. The native of Maplewood, NJ, became a pentathlete, competing for Seton Hall University, where she won three straight Big East indoor pentathlon championships. Ingram later finished runner-up in the pentathlon at the 2007 USATF Indoor National Championships and competed in the heptathlon for the United States at the 2011 Pan American Games. By 2008, the world-class athlete had also turned her attention to coaching, leading to collegiate assistant coach positions at Manhattan College and New York University, and then on the high school level at Hackley. After a break, she felt called to teaching and went to work at Don Bosco Prep in NJ.
Director of Performance Fitness Richard James P’25 let Ingram know a track and field coach position was opening at Poly. Ingram applied and in her first seasons won NYSAIS Championships with the Girls’ Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field teams.
At Poly, Ingram not only wants to train her student-athletes, but also ultimately “prepare them for life.” When she first came to Poly, she had talked about having students write down their goals in notebooks. Whether they do this or not, Ingram encourages them to think about their personal goals and work toward them. Communication and trust between coaches and student-athletes is key to improving performance. Ingram noted that Head of Athletics Rich Corso has helped her elevate her skills in this regard. With one athlete, who was training for the long jump, Ingram jumped herself to show how it was done and to challenge him. This action not only helped illustrate the feat, but also displayed a willingness to connect with the student.
Striving to reach a goal, to reach one’s personal best, is something Ingram hopes for all her athletes. “I know you can do it,” is what she tells them. This driving belief is evident in of one of the fastest Poly athletes. Kofi Rossi ’25 is a blur on the track, running the 200M or the 800M. Coach B “has been a wonder to my track career,” Rossi said. “She has done this by improving my attitude toward track, through making me love the sport once again. This is a big part of track as you need to put so much time and effort into minuscule gain. Coach B also has helped to hone my physical capabilities to a point where I am unbeatable in my area of expertise.”
Unlike other varsity team sports, the competitive Track and Field schedule at Poly runs non-stop from September through June with Indoor Track and Field running October to March and Outdoor Track & Field March to June. Ivy League championships begin May 17 and NYSAIS on May 24, followed by the Nationals in mid June. For Indoor, there can only be three students from a school in each event with four students allowed in each event for Outdoor. This year, the Outdoor Track & Field roster is 86 athletes.
This competitive schedule requires dedication as conditioning and practice is similarly ongoing during the year. Currently the Track & Field team practices two days a week at the indoor Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island, a great place to work on long jump and high jump skills. In the preseason, Ingram said, she likes the athletes to be working out “on a soft surface to avert injuries.”
Coach “B,” as she refers to herself, has an incredible work ethic, coaching her athletes while also finishing up her master’s degree this spring and raising a wonderful 19-month-old daughter. Before she became a mother, Ingram says she thought of her athletes as “my first kids.”
This year, Jack Bogner ’25 accomplished the goal of qualifying and running at the New York State Championship meet for the 55-meter hurdles. “I remember when I first graduated from drills,” Bogner said, “Coach Ingram told me that I was ready to run over hurdles for the first time. I felt comfortable with all my drills, but trying a real hurdle for the first time was something new and I was unsure if I would be fearless enough to clear the hurdle. Coach Ingram told me something that she tells athletes every day. She told me that I was better than I thought. Her belief in me gave me what I needed to clear my first hurdle.”
“Coach Ingram looks at my every step, every arm swing, and every hurdle to ensure I am never getting hurt and am always getting faster.”
When he came to Poly in eighth grade, Bogner knew he wanted to “give track and field a try” like his older brothers. In the ninth grade, Bogner recalls, he joined the team and asked Ingram to teach him to hurdle. “I knew that learning how to hurdle would be a long process and I was prepared,” he recalled, “Coach Ingram made this process feel personalized. Each drill, to this day, is modified based on my performance. This personalization has never allowed me to feel ignored. Coach Ingram looks at my every step, every arm swing, and every hurdle to ensure I am never getting hurt and am always getting faster.”
“Not only does Coach Ingram make sure my drills are sound,” Bogner said, “but she also makes her own training program to ensure I am not being overworked in any specific way. Coach Ingram has ensured that I spend the perfect amount of time stretching, lifting, running, and hurdling. Coach Ingram has maximized my performance by checking in on me countless times to ensure that I am not feeling any pain or discomfort. If I am experiencing pain or discomfort, she has always put my health first ensuring that all of my training will not increase the pain or discomfort until I am completely recovered. In these times I am given new training methods and still working hard to accomplish all of my goals.”
“Every time I fall, lose, or win,” Bogner said, “I know that Coach Ingram will be there to train me, believe in me, and teach me to believe in myself. I look forward to the rest of my high school career with Coach Ingram as I would like no more than to be running at Poly Prep.”