Thursday, March 21, 2019

Where have you been, Coach?

It is highly unlikely anybody has noticed a pattern over the years of few, if any, blog entries between the end of the Indoor season and the beginning of Outdoor.  The reason for that is simple.  My primary occupation, by no means my favorite, but it allows me to work the part-time job I really love, demands long hours for the months December through April.  Even during this, the first week of Outdoor practice, I leave my office, head to Whitman-Hanson, only to return to complete more work at the office in the evening.  It pays the bills and keeps me pool-side in July and August.  I have no complaints whatsoever.  I have long held the belief, "stop working, start dying."  I'll continue working, thank you.

But enough of my ramblings, I have a few observations and an announcement.  Almost anybody reading this would like to hear the announcement first and if I were truly a good writer I'd hold your attention and wait to close out this entry with it.  But I don't claim or profess to be anything but an amateur so here is the announcement.  I made five nominations for All-Scholastic for Girls Indoor Track and four were selected.  Those four are (1) Ally Bartlett, team MVP and top point scorer and team best in hurdles, shot put, and long jump, (2) Dorothy Di-Mascio-Donohue, Senior Award recipient and the team's top Pentathlete and high jumper, second in scoring during the Patriot League season, (3) Anna Sullivan, Rookie-of-the-Year and the team's top Miler and 2 Miler who finished 3rd in points for the team, and (4)  Courtney Woodward, the team's top performer in both the 300 and 600,  and recipient of the Coaches Award.  I also want to acknowledge our top 1000 runner, a brilliant relay runner and our #4 point scorer during the season who I believe the Enterprise had a difficult time not selecting - Izzy Amado.  These five girls were all major contributors to a team which despite a poor overall win-loss record were competitive each time out.  Congratulations ladies.

Observations . . . after only 3 days of outdoor practice we can see that on the Girls' side we have the making of a very good team.  The numbers have improved dramatically.  In 2018 we had 35 girls.  Thus far in 2019 there are 62.  On that basis alone I am ecstatic.  But two things stand out already.  We have quite a large group of freshman who will be contributors as things progress AND we have an influx of athletically gifted upperclassmen.  It has been too many years that I've been unable to identify each athlete by name on Day 3, admittedly due in part to the aging process, but more likely the result of smaller teams and fewer names to learn.  I love having this problem!  Please be patient, I'll have every body's names, events and stats memorized before too long.  And I am excited for our opening meet with Plymouth North at Whitman-Hanson on Tuesday April 2 at 3:30.

I am extremely happy with our coaching staff.  Coach S is, as always, enthusiastic and organized . . . "the man with the plan."  His experience in multiple events, coupled with his encouragement for student-athletes to participate in multiple events will result in improved overall results and increased individual enjoyment of Track & Field.  Former W-H student-athletes Samantha Richner, Rob Bunzell and Julia Cosgrave bring youthful enthusiasm along with their experience and familiarity in multiple events.  Jen Scarpelli who was also an outstanding athlete has an infectious love for Track and Field and years of coaching experience.  And finally, Mrs. Kim Coletti is the perfect role model who is not only a talented runner, but mother of some of our most memorable athletes here at W-H.

Observations made . . . it should be a great season.  I'm not one to make predictions, but based on what I've seen, I know we will be a team that can compete with any Patriot League rival.  In fact, I'm counting on it . . .

Friday, February 15, 2019

D3 Championship Information

The bus for Saturday's meet will roll out of the parking lot at 8:30 . . . sharp!  The meet will get under way at 10:30 with Boys first, then Girls, in all events other than the High Jump which will be run simultaneously.  The order of events and the approximate time of each race is as follows:

10:30     Long Jump
              Shot Put
              55 Hurdles
              55 Dash
              High Jump

11:00     Mile

11:30     600

11:45     1000

12:00     300

12:15     2 Mile Boys

12:40     2 Mile Girls

1:05       4 X 200

1:25       4 X 800

1:55       4 X 400

We should be back at WHRHS at approximately 3:15-3:30.

NO PRACTICE today . . . prepare mentally for your race(s) tomorrow and physically by eating and hydrating intelligently.  This is what you trained for all season long . . . be ready!

Until 8:30AM, see you then.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Attitude reflects Leadership

As one season winds down, the tendency is to look ahead to the season to come, and admittedly, because I am always in "distance" mode, I even look beyond that to Cross Country.  This fall is a pivotal season for you as well as your coach.  Following the 2018 XC season it was decided that we would wait until August to formally name Captains.  Team members were asked to nominate themselves for consideration and a number of you have.  I sincerely appreciate your interest.  Over the past few weeks I have thought about our XC teams and which student-athletes will emerge as leaders in August.  Certainly summer training and preparation will play a role in who is ultimately selected.  But there are many traits which make one a leader.  For those interested in the job, it is your assignment to determine those traits and incorporate them into your daily routine.  Anybody my age knows of  former UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden.  Whether you've ever played or coached basketball, or even know what one is, Coach Wooden was an incredible motivator.  Dozens of times in my life I've been drawn to his quotes for guidance and motivation, but now I am providing you with one to ponder:

My primary concern in posting this today however, is not necessarily for the potential Captains, but for those many others whose time has not yet arrived or will not be named or selected, because it will be those student-athletes who will be asked to follow two or three of their teammates.  They will NOT follow slackers, malingerers or excuse makers. They will NOT accept Captains who don't make attending practice and giving 100% each and every day his/her personal priority. They WILL follow teammates who love their sport, are committed to their team, work hard every day to improve and behave as role models inside and outside of athletics.  Can you measure up?

I'm reminded of a scene from a movie I enjoyed several times and which is apropos here:

See you at 2:30 . . .

Monday, February 11, 2019

D3 Championship Entries

Girls: (Seeding in parentheses)

Isabelle Amado, 1000 (18)
Anna Sullivan, 2 Mile (21)
Allison Bartlett, 55H (17)
Dorothy DiMascio-Donohue, 55H (29)
4 x 200 (20)
4 x 400 (19)
4 x 800 (10)


Kyle O'Brien, 600 (11)
Liam Cafferty, 1000 (29)
Nick Hanley, 1000 (31)
Brandon Hager, Mile (31)
Theo Kamperides, 2 Mile (18)
4 x 400 (17)
4 x 800 (16)
Bill Martell, SP (12)
Nic Fernandez, LJ (22)

Congratulations to all our qualifiers, details will follow regarding transportation, etc.  In the meantime there will be practice following classes tomorrow.  We will start inside and head to the Track for a quick (by any definition) workout!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Patriot League Championship Results

And then there were . . . ?  We don't quite yet know how many athletes met the standards which will ultimately be set for entry to the Division 3 Championship.  In years past the qualifying times have been adjusted at season's end to insure all events are full, which generally means the standard is adjusted downward.  Coaches enter the names of those athletes who have either met the published standard or are close to it and may thus qualify when the standards are adjusted.  Our entries are due no later than Monday at Noon (they're already in!) and the Preliminary (in the event of errors) Performance List should be available later on Monday.  We will keep you posted.

Last night there were some extraordinary performances.  They can all be viewed at the following link:

The one group of kids I know that pays attention to the blog is the distance crew.  (It is after all a Cross Country blog.)  Congratulations to you on your results last evening.  Your hard work paid off.  But there is still work to be done.  Don't worry, you'll all get some time off before we return to spring track, but I'm confident some of you still have a race (or two) to run.  Your job this weekend is to get out there for a 45-60 minute easy run on one day, with the other day off.  You can plan on an easy day Monday so your run can be completed Saturday or Sunday.

And speaking of Spring Track . . . we hope to see more than a couple of new faces.  If you enjoy track, let others know.  Spread the word about the benefits of the sport and the enjoyment you take from it.  I don't know how many times this season I heard you say the day's workout was difficult but that you felt great once it was completed.  As removed as I am from running,  that is a feeling I will never forget.  If there is a heaven, surely running is involved . . .

Enjoy your run, see you Monday.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Patriot League Meet - And I suppose, Editorial #2

There is some irony in this post vis-à-vis the previous entry.  Part of my last rant included the reference to doing the "right thing."  As crazy as it sounds, sometimes doing the right thing means breaking the rules.  In the future I may be breaking a few rules.  Let me explain.

When the Patriot League coaches were making decisions about the qualifying standards for today's meet, several coaches (including myself) wanted to open things up a bit to be more inclusive.  That is, to allow more athletes to participate and thus extending their seasons.  A few of the coaches were quite adamant in declaring their objections.  The naysayers won out and it was determined that the top 24 from each event could be entered, but a team without two in the top 24 could enter at least two in each event.  No confusion there.  Pretty straight forward.

Whitman-Hanson followed the rules without exception.  The result was that not everybody we felt should be entered will have the opportunity to run.  But rules are rules, right?

Yesterday when the Performance Lists were sent out I was surprised that several teams entered additional athletes who neither finished in the top 24 nor were entered to arrive at the minimum of two entries per school.  Some team entered a 3rd or 4th runner in an event who had not made the top 24.  Not within the rules, but somewhat understandable  While I was disappointed others did not follow the letter of the law, I'm not necessarily troubled by that.

The Performance Lists also revealed that many of the top 24 in particular events will not appear at the Patriot League Meet at all.  For example, in the Girls 1000 Meter Run there are 23 entrants.  Thirteen of the entrants did not make the top 24 during the season.  Those entrants that were among the top 24 include girls ranked 1, 5, 7, 9, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, and 24.  Where are #s 2, 3, 4, etc.??  In the Girl's 2 Mile, the top entrant ran the 4th best time in the League.  Where are #s 1, 2 and 3?  You'll see the same thing in many of the scheduled events.  Ironically, the most vociferous coaches with respect to limited entries have failed to enter many of their top athletes into the meet.  Whatever reason he/she may have for holding out an athlete is negated by the fact their position for limited entries was based on the "prestige" of the meet or that he/she had told the kids all season long only the Top 24 would be entered.  Are you kidding me?  I am troubled by that!!

So what do I do?  I've got kids that I work with each day who work extremely hard at improving their performances.  Yesterday, in fact, I thanked them all for their effort throughout the season.  Long runs, on cold days.  Workouts in freezing temperatures.  Not a single complaint (OK, Nick's comments are good-natured.)  I honestly wanted every one of those kids in today's meet.  In my eyes, each one earned it.  The answer is not to do as some other coaches have done, enter athletes without regard for the rules.  BUT, this is the democratic process at work, I WILL be providing this blog entry to our Athletic Director, with the suggestion that in the future we follow the template used by the MIAA in selecting Patriot League Championship entries.  AD Rodgers meets regularly with the other ADs and I'm confident will represent our position well.  Like the MIAA, the Patriot League should determine the number of entries that will participate in each event at it's Championship Meet.  For example, 24 in the 1000 Meter run.  Coaches can "nominate" as many athletes as they wish for each event by entering them on the Direct Athletics site we currently use for that purpose.  Ultimately however, using this example, only 24, based on best performances, will be allowed to run.  Similar to the Divisional Championship Meet, no team will have to be represented.  Entry is gained only by being among those with the best times within the number of entrants allowed. This will preserve the "prestige" of the meet, expand entries to more athletes, and insure the meet can run timely and smoothly.  In my mind, a simple solution.

OK, enough of my ranting, and no cause for alarm, I WON'T be breaking rules any time soon.  If you have opposing opinions, or alternative suggestions, Id love to hear them.  In any event, we'll see you at 3:15 for our trip to the RLTAC.  I know it is an early dismissal day.  No junk food!!!  3:15 . . .

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Post #752 - Editorial #1

Yesterday our Athletic Director sent out a text message to all the coaches asking us to communicate our expectations as they relate to today's parade.  Ironically I was asked, via text again, by more than a single athlete, for my reaction if he/she was to miss school and practice to attend the parade.  I gave the textbook response . . . if you are not in school, you can't participate in practice, I'll post the workout on the blog.  I'm sorry.  I lied.  I won't be posting today's workout on the blog.  If you really wanted to do the workout, you'd be in school and at practice.

If there is a hint of anger in the foregoing, again, my apologies.  But honestly, I'm insulted by the question.  This is my 17th season here at Whitman-Hanson and I have expressed nothing but gratitude for the opportunity to work with some truly great kids.  Over those seasons I have missed 10 practices, all during a 13 day hospitalization in 2017.  During that time in the hospital, I sent the workouts to my Assistant each day who handled my duties in my absence. I have a commitment, an obligation, which I take very seriously. I fulfill it each and every day.  Yesterday, I joked with a couple of the boys who asked if I would be at practice today.  My response, "If I'm not, check the obituary page."

I own two homes.  My total real estate tax bills are just a shade under $18,000.00, far greater than the money I earn from coaching.  Those real estate taxes, in part, are earmarked for the education systems of Abington and Whitman.  It troubles me, as a taxpayer, that some of our student/athletes, presumably with the support of their parents, don't feel obligated to get to school each day and take advantage of the opportunity they have been given.

I remember as a high school student, we had a field trip for our History class.  We went to a what was then called the Cinerama in Boston to view a movie, "Gone With the Wind", which told the story of several families' struggles during the Civil War, which we were studying at the time.  It was exciting taking the trip, missing most of the school day and getting to experience an "historical" film.  I understand the excitement that would accompany a trip to the city, on a pleasant day, to experience something described as "historical."  But truth be told . . . well, ask yourself.

While in high school, my youngest daughter NEVER missed a day of classes.  She participated in three sports and NEVER missed a practice.  I know, I drove her the 10 miles each morning and picked her up each evening.  I was happy to do it, she was happy to be there. She was my motivation.  And for her efforts, at graduation, she and 2 other girls who also had perfect attendance, received a bouquet of flowers and recognition of their achievement.  The flowers, in retrospect, meant nothing.  Perfect attendance however meant everything.  The lessons she learned have served her well as an adult, but I'll resist the temptation to gloat concerning her other accomplishments.

Skipping school and attending today's parade, flies in the face of everything I have done and continue to try to do as a parent and a coach.  I am not holding myself out as somebody who is perfect, but can honestly say that every decision I make is borne in doing the "right thing."  Those opting to attend school and practice today won't be thanked, or even recognized for being there, but they will know they have done the "right thing.".  For the others, I'll leave you with the closing lines of "Gone With the Wind" . . .