The learning journey – clinics, symposia, and other resources

From the time I committed to be a track & field coach in January of 1968 I started the learning journey. Last post I talked about the books that were learning resources that influenced me. In this post I will talk about the clinics, symposiums and other resources that were influences in my development, particularly in the first twelve years.

  • Theory of Track and Field class taught by Red Estes was the foundation for everything I have done since. We had to prepare a detailed notebook of each event. In addition, we had to show proficiency in each event so that we could demonstrate for our athletes. I continue to use the lessons learned in that class today. Good old-fashioned pedagogy never goes out of style.
  • In January of 1968 Red Estes, organized the first Fresno State track & Field Clinic. Red was a University of Oregon graduate, so he was able to bring in Bill Bowerman, who was the iconic coach at U of O. The other speaker was Ken Shannon, who was the field event coach at UCLA. Both were great. Terrific presentations with great information. I have to say it was Bowerman who sealed the deal on me becoming a track coach. He was so inspirational and passionate I decided that night that I wanted to be a track coach. I have never looked back! Each subsequent year I would go back to the Fresno State Clinic each January. Later in the seventies I was honored to be asked to speak at it. In February of 1970 I attended my first Mt. SAC Clinic where I first heard Tom Tellez. The Mt. SAC clinic became an annual event for me, there was always a great lineup of speakers willing to share. 1972 Olympic Trials Clinic was held in the morning during the trails. The presenters were top coaches, it was my first exposure to coaches from other regions of the US, up to that time my main exposure had been to coaches from the west. AAU Learn by Doing Clinic in July 1972 organized by Fred Wilt. This was five-day 12 hour a day clinic attended by every coach who did anything in track in the US for the next thirty years. The evening session with Tadeusz Starzynski, Joseph Schmidt’s coach was a highlight for me. A terrific insight into a system not dependent of heavy weights. 1976 Olympic Trials Clinic was another experience much like 72 Trials clinic. This time I my depth of knowledge was a little greater and I could ask better questions.
  • Track Technique edited by Fred Wilt. Issues that I found particularly useful were: #33 Javelin Throwing Russian Style by V. Mazzalitis, detailing Janis Lusis training and #34 The high Jump by V.M. Dyahov detailing Brumels training. In 1978 I was honored to take over as Editor of Track Technique. Assuming that position gave me access to coaches and information worldwide that was amazing.
  • Meadowbank Convention notes from an annual seminar held in Edinburgh every year. It was put on by Scottish Athletics and organized by Frank Dick. Eventually I was able to obtain most of the notes from each annual convention. I found these notes really informative because they had speakers from the eastern bloc countries that I would not normally have access to. In fact, there are presentations from those notes that I go back to periodically.
  • Athletic Journal and Scholastic Coach were sent to our athletic department each month. Even though they were multisport journals they contained a wealth of information. There were tremendous sequence photos of technique in all sports that helped to understand athletic movement.
  • Athletics Coach was the technical of British Amateur Athletic Board. Tremendous articles by top British and European coaches. The BAAB also put out a series of instructional manuals that were indispensable to me, particularly because they all included teaching progressions.
  • Modern Athlete and Coach published by the Australian Track Coaches Association. It was edited by Jess Jarver who was a native Russian speaker, so the translations published were very accurate. A great journal.
  • USTCA Association Journal which consisted mainly reprinted clinic notes.
  • Research Quarterly published by AAHPER. A good source for research articles in physical education.
  • 8mm and Super 8 films sold my Ora McMurray were invaluable. There was no YouTube, so we depended on Ora and his network of contacts throughout the world for high quality film of the best in their respective events in action. In fact, with my first paycheck as a teacher I paid $495 for a Kodak M95 projector that allowed me to stop, start and reverse film so I could study technique films. In addition, there were sequence photos shot and developed by Phil Bath that came in rolls you could take them out to the track. They were of unbelievable high quality and invaluable for the athletes to see good technical models.
  • The 1976 Olympics were a great learning experience for me. I tried to be first at the practice track in the morning and last to leave in the evening. What an education, getting to see the top athletes in the world with their coaches training and warming up for competition was invaluable in my development as a coach. Finally attending the 1978 Commonwealth Scientific Congress in Edmonton was an eye opener for me and to what science could potentially do. Top scientists and coaching presenting were not only informative but inspirational.
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