Observations based on 60+ years in the world’s greatest sport
This column will appear sporadically in the M-F Athletic blog as a combination of ideas, observations and plain Track & Field chatter. I welcome your contributions – please send them to email@example.com.
The World Championships on TV
A track lover’s heaven – if you get Universal Sports. I was lucky, since Direct TV includes it in their menu. They presented two segments, each 2 hours long, showing semis and finals with quite a bit of every event. There was practically non-stop action, with only a few interviews with out of breath athletes. Several athletes skipped the meet, but there was a load of talent. The announcers were in the U.S., and the station picked up a European feed and did voice-overs. Universal Sports is an NBC station covering Olympic sports, so track meets sometimes are included. If your cable system carries Universal Sports – make sure to check out their offerings.
Starting Block Memories
Watching the sprinters and hurdlers set their blocks reminded me of my first years of coaching. There were no starting blocks then – instead we used a trowel to dig out the cinders so the athletes could place their feet against the back of the hole. We tried to make the back of the hole firm enough so athletes could push off with force without slipping. Then wooden blocks came into use. These had spikes extending down from the wood to stick into the cinders. No more digging! Usually teams did not have enough wooden blocks, so only the best sprinters and hurdlers had them. The rest of the athletes continued to dig out holes in the track.
Speaking of Old Equipment
We had only wooden hurdles way back – and they weighed a ton. At the second high school I coached at hurdles were stored in the sub-basement after the season ended. There was no one to take them up the stairs and put them on the track except athletes and coaches. (I should say coach, since there was me and 90 boys). I made sure the first practices of the season were easy, so nobody quit or was cut from the team until we carried all the hurdles up the stairs onto the track. When hurdlers hit these babies, they did not forget it - the hurdles didn’t move – they stayed in place and inflicted pain. It was easy to pick out the tough kids – they would come back for more after cutting themselves on the hurdles.
The success achieved by a local school here in little RI was gratifying to observe – especially since Coach Bill Habarek ran for URI while I coached there. His Chariho HS (a regional school from Charlestown, Richmond and Hope Valley, RI) 4 x 1 mile team broke the National Scholastic Indoor Meet Record recently with a phenomenal record-breaking effort. Considered a good group – but not a favorite to win, the Chargers not only won the race – they broke the National Record with a sensational 17:20.20. Splits were: Dan Kilcoyne 4:24.1; Bryce Kelley 4:15.6; Jake Kilcoyne 4:28.8 and Mike Marsella 4:11.7. Also Chariho won the 2011 RI State Outdoor Championship and the 2012 RI Indoor State championships on the strength of these runners winning all races and relays from 800m up. Coach Habarek will tell how he developed this terrific group at M-F’s U.S. All-Star Track & Field and Cross-Country Clinic in Atlantic City next December.
See you next time.