Very large team this year; the largest we’ve ever had. It is logistically challenging because I like to coach each athlete individually, but Coach Don and have developed a system that maintains some of that individual attention while handling so many runners at once. Coach Don started the program around 2004 and had 14 kids. I took over in 2012 and we used to have 25-30 kids. This year we have 74 (so far) with more trickling in here or there. The program is 15 years old, Don coached for about 4 years and I’m coaching my 8th year, so between the 2 of us you get pretty much the whole coaching history of the program.
Growth is great for providing opportunities for kids to enjoy this amazing sport, but it creates logistical difficulties for me when we grow so fast.
To deal with these challenges, parent help/support is an absolute must. Without it, we can’t offer a quality program to your kids. I take a very ‘tailored’ approach to coaching, but I can only do this if I know I have parent help with practices/meets, etc.
We need LOTS of parents to help at practices. So if you can run, please come out and run with us. We need the most help with our youngest runner group (gremlins) and our second group, which has a wide range of runners who are 5:40 milers to 10 minute milers, so they get very spread out.
You registered for NPTC online, but you need to turn in a birth certificate to us if you do not have one on file in our system. If you do give me (or Darlene Escobar, who is in charge of organizing our registration) a copy; make sure it’s not the original. We keep these and turn them over to the conference.
You will need to fill out paperwork for the conference (I posted these to the website). ALL ATHLETES MUST HAVE A SIGNED RELEASE FORM BEFORE THEY CAN PRACTICE. You will also need to fill out the conference registration form. I know it’s a hassle, but the athlete actually need to sign where it says athlete signature.
I need uniform orders by Thursday night/Friday morning so I can get our order in on time!
With such a large team, I will not be able to respond to e-mails or texts right before practice.
We will do our best to send information out via e-mail in a timely fashion. We will also post updates to the website. So please check e-mail and website for info.
I have posted a general schedule for the season, but it most certainly will have changes throughout the season as we tailor or workouts to what we need. I will always include the date on the file. Delete old files.
If in doubt on location for a practice, check the website as it will have the most recent practice schedule.
Just to make sure everyone knows, ALWAYS ASSUME WE HAVE PRACTICE. If it is raining, or very hot, please don’t e-mail me asking if we have practice. The answer is yes unless you hear from me. I won’t hold practice unless I think it’s safe and benefits the runners. If you disagree with my assessment, you have that right and you are welcome to keep your athlete at home, but in general, we always have practice.
Work ethic and pride in what you do
Self-discipline – learn when it’s appropriate to goof around and when it’s not.
Take pride in personal accomplishments
I’m not that concerned with winning, placing, or time.
I feel strongly about these 3 components; I believe in using sports to teach kids about what it takes to be successful later in their lives.
Please let me do the coaching and keep ‘parent coach talk’ from happening at home
The first thing kids do when mom and dad start telling them what to do is tune it out. Once they start tuning you out at home about listening to running, the next thing is they’ll start tuning me out.
Running really should be fun for them; always having a parent coach in their ear is a quick way to make it not fun.
Please do not have them do any ‘extra’ running at home; I have a very specific plan to training and deviating from it (by adding more) makes the plan less effective. I know parents have good intentions, but having your kids do any running outside of my program undoes a lot of the physiological benefits that my program provides. You will actually be inhibiting their potential if you have them do extra running.
Keep in mind there is no correlation between how good a runner is at a young age and how good they are in high school/college. Some will excel early and not later, some won’t excel early but will later. It’s very individually specific. So although we all want our kids to do really well, remember that these are not the glory days where they will have their most successful running. Be supportive and the rest will take care of itself in the long term. We don’t try to build winners—what we aim to build are a love of running, biomechanic efficiency in form, and learning how to race. Build those 3 things, and you’ll build a powerhouse team by the time they reach high school.
We are a very good team in terms of our competitive ability, but the reason we are good is because we don’t try to be good. I emphasize running form and work ethic (things that the kids have control over) and the byproduct of that is that the places/times (things we can’t control) take care of themselves. Please keep this philosophy throughout the season! Once kids focus on places/times, they don’t run as well.
Coaching goals and objectives
To see continued running improvement throughout the season in each athlete
To make sure all kids are running with decent running mechanics
Stay injury-free; quality over quantity
To emphasize camaraderie—distance runners are a close-knit group, and the kids all make some really great friendships along the way. Some of my best memories from my running days were not of my accomplishments, but of the friendships I had along the way.
Expectations of athletes
I expect kids to 1) work hard, 2) have self-discipline, and 3) work toward personal accomplishments.
I expect exemplary sportsmanship. I don’t believe in hiding “winning/losing” (even though there really is no such thing in XC), but I think it’s important for kids to deal with success in a sportsmanlike way and with failures in a sportsmanlike way.
One rule I have: no one is allowed to talk about themselves, but they can (and are encouraged to) talk about their teammates.
If I or another coach is talking, all athletes must be listening.
Structure of practices
I have a goal for each and every workout for the entire season. I pre-plan these goals now, but I adjust as the season goes along (I might do more speed work or downhill running if we need it for example).
Athletes will be split into three groups each practice. They are not based strictly on age or ability or gender, but are a combination of things. Mostly it will depend on what I think the athlete needs the most. This means that sometimes friends will be in different groups, or some might have to do a workout that they don’t really like, but there is always a reason for doing what I’m doing.
NO GROUP IS ANY BETTER/WORSE THAN THE OTHERS. They are just different workout focus for each group.
I genuinely try to tailor workouts so that I coach each individual kid, not just groups of kids.
General practice structure:
Easy warm-up laps…here’s where I actually encourage the kids to chat and goof a little! The tendency is for kids to race the warm-up laps. By talking and chatting, they don’t have enough breath to race fast and they take it easier.
After warm-ups, we do dynamic stretches and our core work for the day.
Next is main workout set. This is where I want the goofing to stop and we get down to work.
After our main workout, we regroup and do some strides—for those of you not familiar with strides, these are 40-50 yards where they work up to race pace. I always want the kids to get used to race pace on tired legs, so we’ll almost always do these at the end of practice.
Last, we might do some easy cool down running and we always end with light stretching.
Starts at 5:30pm promptly, should end around 6:45ish.
Please make sure and be on time when you pick up your athlete.
Practice locations: all posted online at nptrackclub.org.
We need volunteers for pool runs (thanks to the Simon-Zasloff and Patsch families for offering)
Typical meet days
Meets will start somewhere between 8am and 9am, depending on the meet organizers and how organized they are.
Please arrive an hour before the schedule start time…this is the only time you and your athlete will be able to walk the entire course and see the exact layout. I think this is an important step to help the kids ease some of the anxiety on race day…they see exactly where they’re supposed to go.
Races start with the youngest kids first and the oldest kids last (unless specifically stated otherwise).
I know everyone is busy on Saturdays (and some Sundays), but I encourage everyone to stick around as long as you can to help cheer on the older kids. And I encourage parents of older kids to arrive early to cheer on the younger kids. This sport is hard and these kids put out an amazing amount of effort. Hurting that much feels a lot better when you’ve got people out there supporting you. All the kids deserve that, not just your own.
Meet days can get kind of crazy for me and Don, especially when I have other responsibilities so we need a dedicated group of age group coordinators to serve as assistant coaches on meet days. These AGCs will warm up age groups, cool them down, get their stickers/pins on them, etc. as needed. That will free up Don and me to do our responsibilities and spend more time coaching the athletes during their race.
I highly encourage parents to become involved in helping at practices.
First thing you’ll notice if you’ve ran track but not XC is that it’s a totally different feel. We’re an extended family and you’ll get to know everyone really well. The only way this works is if you adopt the philosophy that you watch over every kid the same way you would your own kid.
My biggest priority is athlete safety. In XC, kids can get spread out over long distances, so the more parents we have the better.
We need parents help at the front, in the middle, and at the back…some of you parents may think you can’t contribute, but I guarantee that you can be in one of those 3 places: front, middle, or back.
If any of you are pretty fast runners, I can use your help with the faster runners.
The area we need the most help is usually with the younger kids, so we need heavy parent involvement with that group of runners.
All families will be required to volunteer some time at meets. We try to organize it so that you only have to spend a short time doing your job and that it won’t interfere with cheering on your own kids. It’s quite easy, you just have to be willing to step up.
Shoes! Do not skimp on shoes. Go to a running store. Good running stores will not upsell you into a shoe, so take their advice without prejudice.
Again, I need uniform orders by Thursday night so I can get our order in on time.
Our top is different than track, and we are changing uniforms this year, so everyone needs a new top. If you have track shorts from spring and they still fit, you can use those, but I honestly like the new shorts better than our track ones.
The girls compression shorts will be 4” inseams, which is about 1” shorter than our previous compression shorts (new vendor only has a 4” option instead of 5” option).
With the shorts being a bit shorter this year, make the decision that your athlete and you are most comfortable with. 4” is a little shorter than I prefer them to be (5” was good), but it’s a bit of a compromise between how short the girls want them and how long the parents want them.