I chose to observe the practices at Cuesta College for Track and Field. I primarily focused on the distance team with Matt Sherman as the coach. When I arrived at the first practice I observed Coach Sherman talking to the team at the beginning of their practice. He was going over what they should focus on during their first track meet, which was coming up. His positive attitude stood out the most.
He put his emphasize on having fun. He stressed the importance that they work as hard as they can to achieve their best performance but his final words were, “Have fun!” I started to realize what he stressed most for his team and that was to achieve the goals they set for themselves.
For both practices I attended the athletes started out with a warm-up run. They then met as a group and had the team captain (Chris Schachter) lead in their stretches. I noticed strong team cohesion as they stretched talking about their activities from the previous weekend and the work out that they were going to have. After the stretching Coach Sherman gathered them together to explain the workout (both days a speed workout).
As he explained he made sure each of the team members understood the exact instructions for the speed drills. One of the athletes (Karen Maas) had a question and he patiently answered it and encouraged more questions to make sure the team knew the exact workout. He had the lone male distance runner do 2 sets of 4×200 meter sprints on the track. He had the women’s distance team go out to the pond’s to run a 20-minute fartlek in which they ran a minute hard and a minute easy. I observed the male distance runner and when he finished his second set of 200’s, Coach Sherman suggested he run one more set of 200’s. Chris was tired and was hesitant to do more but he ran them without incidence.
When I talked to Chris after his workout I asked him if he agreed with Coach Sherman’s decision to make him run the extra set of 200’s. He said, “I was tired but I knew it would help me in the long run for the end of my races. Coach Sherman was my coach in cross-country and I noticed an incredible improvement during the course of the season. He really knows what he is doing out on the track.”
As far as athlete behavior and interaction with the coach, I noticed nothing but positive things. Coach Sherman is a young coach (24) and a student at Cal Poly, but despite the closeness in age he manages to uphold a great deal of respect from the athletes.
They not only respect him as a coach, but also as a runner, and they know he empathizes with them. They talked to him about their personal lives as well as running and also had questions about nutrition. I could tell that the athletes felt comfortable asking his advice in different areas of their lives.
Coach Sherman showed me a training schedule for this season and I could see that he was very knowledgeable in his skill development. I asked where he got all of his information for each of the detailed workouts and he talked of numerous books and articles on running. I could see that he put a lot of time and effort into coaching and that he was very enthusiastic with his job.
I attended the first track meet at Santa Barbara City College. The women’s 1500-meter run was up first. Coach Sherman was out on the track giving the female runners advice on their first race of the season and reassuring them that they were physically as well as mentally prepared to run this race. The girls looked a little more relaxed as they got to the starting line, but were still very nervous as to be expected. The top runner from Cuesta got 4th place in a very talented field of runners. Immediately after the race Coach Sherman was there giving splits, constructive criticism and praise.
In the men’s 1500 meter, Chris Schachter was the lone runner for Cuesta. .