Track coach Dean begins quest towards co-ed unity
As another thaw season begins, muscles are beginning to become accustomed to the warmer climate and the competition that is attached. But beyond unstretched legs, the track coaching staff has once again undergone dramatic changes for the Wildcats. Once again, the team has been asked to adjust to a new head coach. While the boys track team has experienced coaching adjustments for the past four years, this is the first time that the girls team has also been affected by a head coaching shift. Coach Charles Dean has taken the helm this year after a promising first season as a boys team assistant coach. While many athletes would be hesitant to expect too much out of a brand new coaching staff, the coach with a football pedigree from UNLV has rallied the troops and is setting higher goals than ever before.
“My goal for the athletes is to chase [personal records],” said Dean. “If everyone improves and gets better, we have accomplished more than any team goal we could have set.”
This coaching staff has embraced the fact that student-athletes need to be recognized as students first and athletes second. Encompassed within this belief is the notion that while winning is important, athletes are in school to do two things: learn and to improve every single day.
“High school athletics are all about the student-athletes, and that means that we are looking out for them, trying to help them improve, and become better at everything they are doing,” said Dean. “I want to see all of these men and women take something away from this season. I hope that they enjoy it and can use it as a positive experience later on.”
Drawing on only two weeks of practice, Dean and the rest of his staff are fully expecting to see improvement as the year progresses. With runners already proudly displaying sore muscles and an increased work ethic, the potential for improvement this season is greater than ever before.
"I am really excited by the season so far; we have a lot of phenomenal athletes coming back who I am expecting great things from,” said Dean. “We also have a lot of really talented freshmen coming up who have a lot of potential to do great things this year.”
Instead of being able to focus on each individual person, the team has had to adapt to the new structure in which coaches are shared between the boys and girls team. In the new co-ed format, meets are attended by the entire team instead of just boys or girls.
“The biggest challenge this year has been combining the boys and girls teams together and trying to manage both teams,” said Dean. “Last year I worked with the boys team a lot and, so I know most of them, but I am still working to get to know the girls team better.”
In spite of previous exposure to the boys team, Dean has made it his goal to bring his team together regardless of gender or previous structural designs. In the freshly unified programs, the coaching staff views the new environment as a healthy challenge.
“One of my goals is to get to know the girls better,” said Dean. “I hope to not only get to know them as athletes, but as people, and figure out what they can do and how I can help them to get better at whatever it is they are interested in doing.”
With the lofty task of combining the two teams, Dean has been grateful for all of the help he has received from his experienced assistants. With a staff full of both college athletes and long-term coaches, the potential for improvement is prevalent throughout the team.
“I am just so happy and so lucky to have such a well-rounded and talented group of assistants,” said Dean. “They make my job so much easier and our team is in good shape because of both the athletes and the coaches that are behind them.”
By: Steven Ellefson