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Fresno State Spring Semester 68

In the fall I completed all the classes for my major – Social Science with an emphasis in Latin American history so in the spring I turned my attention to my minor in Physical Education. I had decided I wanted to coach and teach, but I was still a little unsure what I was going to coach. I was thinking about basketball, but when I went to the first Fresno Sate Track and Field Clinic that January and heard Bill Bowerman (University of Oregon) and Ken Shannon (Assistant coach at UCLA) speak, I decided to coach track and I have never looked back. It was a great choice. After my  football expereince where coaching decisions were at best subjective, the objectivity of track and field appealed to me. If I ran faster, jumped higher or threw farther I was better, no arguments. That also made coaching more interesting, I could accurately measure my performance based on my athlete’s performance, no BS, no politics. If I did a good job they would get better, that appealed to me.

I loaded up on theory classes. Except they were not theory classes, we learned how to coach, we had to show proficiencies in skills and the ability to teach the skills how organize and run a practice.

Theory of Football taught by Daryl Rogers, head football coach. What I remember most about this class was guest speaker who was an assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. It was the first time I heard the term “speed of the game.” He talked about how much faster the game was played at the pro level. It took me a long time to understand it, but his ideas stuck with me.

Theory of Basketball taught by head basketball coach Ed Gregory. This was an amazing class. We had to compile a complete playbook, offense and defense including progressions and drills. We had to scout both a high school and a college game and compile a complete scouting report. Coach Gregory went onto be a scout in the NBA for many years. I saw him at the NBA pre-draft camp in 1987 and thanked him for the great class. This class really opened up my eyes about the importance of being systematic in your approach and the importance of organization and attention to detail. It reinforced what I had seen in high school with Mr. Kuehl, now I knew more of the why.

Theory of Track and Field, taught by assistant track coach Red Estes. This was one of the best classes I ever had. We had to learn each event and were graded on our proficiency in each event. We had to compile a notebook on training that I still have today. Red turned me onto coaching; he encouraged me to try the decathlon to learn to be a better coach. The text for the class was Ken Doherty’s classic Modern Track & Field, a great book that is a must read for coaches today.

Track & Field Officiating Taught by head coach Dutch Warmerdam. Dutch was the first man to clear 15’ in the pole vault and one of the greatest athlete’s of his era. We learned to drag, water, and line a track. We leaned all the rules. We had to officiate at meets. One of those meets was the West Coast Relays held in Fresno at Radcliffe Stadium the first weekend in May. That meet in 1968 was unreal, getting the opportunity to be on the field, listen to the coaches, watch the athletes warm-up and see the great competition up close was inspirational and confirmed that coaching track was the correct choice.

I graduated that June and headed back home to Santa Barbara. In California to get your teaching credential you have go a fifth year, so I decided to go to University of California, Santa Barbara. My plan was that if I went back home and did my practice teaching there I would have a better chance of getting a job there. That summer I started my immersion in track & field. I introduced myself to Sam Adams the track & field coach at UCSB, he encouraged me in my training for the decathlon. At age twenty-one I had it all figured out, or so I thought and I was home.

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Comment by James Range on March 21, 2011 at 8:57am
Good stuff! I have also been reading Athletic Development. Just wanted to say that it's a great book and has really taught me a lot about all aspects of training.

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