Chris Coleman was recently hired as track and field’s new head coach, replacing Daniel Haas, who resigned at the end of last season after head coaching for six years.
Though this will be Coleman’s first year as BHS’ head coach, he has been a member of the track program’s coaching staff for six years, coaching sprinting and hurdling.
As a track athlete in high school and college, Coleman was a high jumper and hurdler, setting the freshman 400 meter hurdling record at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Coleman’s personal experience as a student-athlete has given him plenty of insight on how to best coach high-schoolers.
“The main thing that Chris brings to the table is his understanding of the student-athlete as they progress through high school, from freshman to senior and all that journey creates for them,” said distance coach Steve O’brien.
That understanding of the student-athlete has already resulted in a noticeable change in the atmosphere of practices.
“It feels way more laid back,” said sophomore hurdler Cooper Glavin. “Last year there were a ton of harsh rules on attendance that Chris has seemed to tone down this year.”
Under Haas, track and field developed a reputation as one of the most serious sports at Burlingame. Four unexcused absences would result in immediate dismissal from the team, and last year, only the top three athletes participating in each event were allowed to attend meets. Many, including Glavin, felt that some of Haas’ policies were unnecessarily strict.
“Coach Haas made a lot of changes to how the track team was being run and a lot of people didn’t like that,” Glavin said. “He implemented a rule where there would only be three BHS runners in every meet, which no other schools did.”
Coleman hopes to maintain the level of intensity that was present at Haas’ practices, but he plans on being more lenient with regards to attendance than Haas was.
“I am probably a lot more stringent in the workouts because of how I was trained,” Coleman said. “I am not as stringent with some of the attendance requirements. I am a little bit more flexible for kids that either work or have tutoring or have different things like that.”
Additionally, Coleman intends to abolish the rule limiting the number of athletes per event eligible for meet participation.
“Any kid that does the appropriate workouts and that we think is in the appropriate shape or capability to run a certain event will get to run that event,” he said. “I am not going to cap how many kids can run an event.”
Coleman is making these changes because they align with his values and priorities as a coach. Though he will do his best to make the track program as successful as possible, his ultimate objective is to ensure that his athletes enjoy running.
“I am not concerned with winning an event or running a certain time or anything like that,” he said. “My main goal is to make sure that kids love to run, that they can improve and they can get better and show progress.”