Coaches look ahead to success in the long run
By Peter Farrell
The 52 Haldane student athletes who joined the Haldane track and field team are in good hands with coach AJ McConville and volunteer assistant coach Lauren Haines at the helm. Planning for the upcoming spring track and field season starts during the indoor winter season, when both coaches start to evaluate and develop athletes competing in the winter season events.
As the spring season rolls around, the optional practices begin in early March, with the coaches’ hands-on approach to developing programs for each and every athlete. Practices take place in a variety of locations, given the limited facilities at Haldane. Students can be seen practicing sprints and long jump runs in the hallways of Haldane, or running through the hills of Cold Spring. Beacon High School’s track facilities are also used as much as possible. Working out in the weight room and focusing on core muscle development are also key components to training.
As fast and as strong as the Haldane track and field student athletes are, their coaches start the development process slowly, taking care with each athlete, showing them the proper warm-up and cool-down techniques, developing goals and teaching student athletes to train, not strain. Less is better in track and field, and developing consistency is the key to long-term success, and ultimately, winning.
Student athletes are also instructed on the health and mental approaches to competing in track and field, not just the physical. Proper sleep and eating habits, drinking lots of water and making sure your gear is properly prepared for events are critical ingredients to success in meets. The Blue Devils track and field team will be participating in at least nine different events ranging from the race walk, sprinting, long jump, relays, 1,500-meter, shot put, hurdles, etc. With 14 meets on the schedule for the spring 2015 season, all track and field athletes will have opportunities to compete.
Considering the extensive roster of talent on the team, the coaches are expecting some Haldane school records to be broken this season. The season was scheduled to begin Thursday (April 2) with a meet in Pearl River, New York.
The team consists of students ranging from grades 7 through 12. With only 10 seniors, this young team will continue to develop together and get better for years to come. This is one of the goals of the program: McConville and Haines are looking at the long-term goals for each student athlete with an eye on success in the long run, not just winning the next meet or event. That takes patience, as every student athlete wants to win every race or event. But to get to that winning level and maintain that consistency, they need to develop their skills slowly.
The coaches know this development process firsthand, as both have personal experiences in track and field. McConville, who is going on his third year coaching Haldane track and field, was a Haldane student athlete who went on to have a successful college track and field career at Ithaca College, where he continued as a graduate assistant coach for a year and a half, helping the cross-country and track and field teams. Haines, a Villanova Track and Field Hall of Famer and All American, competed at a very high level throughout her high school and college career.
Bringing that experience to the table, these coaches can help refine and develop student athletes who want to join the Haldane team. Many students from other Haldane sports programs such as soccer, baseball and basketball join track and field to continue to work on their athletic capabilities.
As the Blue Devils continue to develop their talents, both coaches hope that the team can capture the 2015 league title for Haldane for the first time since 2001. Then they hope the journey continues with athletes competing at the state championships in Albany and/or the nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina, in June 2015.
Photo by P. Farrell