USATF Coaching Education Program – 30 Year Later

Yesterday when I working on two chapters for the new and revised Level One Coaching Manual to be published by Human Kinetics I realized that thirty years ago this past week was when we had out first instructor training school and curriculum development meeting. We gathered at Cal State University, Long Beach. Ron Buss was the women’s track coach there and he graciously took care of all the facilities and organization. There were around fifty of us (Somehow the records have been lost as to the exact number – another story for another time). It was an amazing week! Each aspect of the level one curriculum was presented and critiqued and revised onsite. The last two days we had essentially our first level two for those instructors, it was very high level presented by coaches like Ken Foreman from Seattle Pacific and top sport science people. The highlight of that segment was Dr Joe Vigil then of Adams State talking for three hours on the most intricate details of exercise physiology with no notes. It was vintage Joe Vigil.

6a00e5521cccd0883401a3fae9bff5970b-320wiNo one was paid a cent. They received their travel and room and board. The whole program was started with $3,000 seed money from the Men and Women’s development committees. From that $3,000 has grown arguably one of the most successful programs ever undertaken by USATF. It proves that drive, determination and dedication with heavy doses of idealism can succeed. We refused to take no for an answer. Gary Winckler, Joe Vigil and myself with the tremendous support of Berney Wagner in the national office somehow got it done. On Sunday afternoon when we finished Gary Winckler then at Florida State, Scott Brady-Smith from Acalanes High school and Kevin McGill who was at Columbia University went back to my house in Irvine and worked non-stop the next two days to get the curriculum ready for the first the Level One Schools to be held the first weekend in January 1984. Remember there were no computers, my wife had to type everything and we had to get it off to the school directors for duplication. Somehow it all worked and the schools went off without a hitch.

This program is a shinning light in a sport that needs help. The answer to reviving track and field and giving it the respect it so deserves lies with improving the quality of coaching. I am proud to have played a small part in getting this started, now we need to unify our efforts and all get together and make the program even better. Just writing this has stirred so many fond memories of the dedicated people that worked so hard to get this program off the ground in the first five years. I thank all of you.

My wish is that the breakaway faction in the track coach’s organization would get back together with us to improve the program and make the sport better. Track & Field needs unity not division. We need to put egos and personalities aside and do what is right for the sport, Invoke the spirit of all of those who started the program with no compensation just unlimited passion and knowledge coupled with a love of the sport. Lets get together and make the next thirty years even better.

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