On June 24, the rebuilding of the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs was announced by athletic director Jill Bodensteiner.
The new structure, proposed by Bodensteiner, merged the men’s and women’s programs under one coaching staff, led by Mike Glavin, now director of men’s and women’s cross country and athletics. The coaching staff is supported by assistant coaches Chris Tarello, Yvonne Harrison and Brian Hirshblond.
According to Glavin, athletes will have more specialized training and more eyes on them while training with this style, which will help them improve their technique and receive more direct feedback. Harrison and Hirshblond focus on sprints, hurdles and jumps, while Glavin and Tarello focus on mid to long distance runners.
“The two collaborate weekly on what workouts are best for all male and female athletes based on the events those athletes run and the technique they need,” Glavin said. “It’s not separated by gender, it’s by event.”
Despite the release of former women’s track and field and cross country head coach Melody O’Reilly, the new structure offers a rebuilding of the men’s and women’s teams, rather than the absorption of the women’s team under the male head coach. The women’s team has been open to the changes and understood how this process is supposed to benefit them.
“They’ve been completely supportive of the change, and they’re all in agreement with the feedback I’ve received,” Glavin said. “The feedback really shows in the workouts and the training and the attitude they bring to practice.”
Athletes on the women’s team have also verbally expressed their support for the changes. Senior Darynn Minus-Vincent said Harrison and Hirshblond’s training, by focusing on a specific group of athletes, offered a more personal approach to each athlete’s training.
“I think we have two different perspectives,” Minus-Vincent said. “We cover all aspects of our training.
Operating under one group of coaches and practicing together brought the two teams together. Junior Eric Ford said he believed it was not just the coaching staff that was responsible for the advantages the teams had enjoyed so far, but also the encouragement between the riders.
“Now we all feel like a unit,” Ford said. “Everyone is working together, and we’re all pushing each other, and it’s all been really good vibes so far.”
The rebuild has been an adjustment for both coaches and athletes, but has already proven beneficial so far. Minus-Vincent said the changes benefited the athletes physically and also caused a change in the mentality of the team.
“It’s obviously a big change to train with the men,” Minus-Vincent said. But the training has been great and the general atmosphere has been really positive.
According to Ford, everyone on the team has been pleased with how the change in coaching and culture has led to growth and unity between the two teams.
“I remember the first day Coach Harrison and Coach Hirsch gave a speech and everyone just looked and smiled,” Ford said. “We’re all super excited to see what this year has in store for us.”