Here is the entire quote which can be found along with the summary of the Bellarmine Bells at www.dyestatcal.com as part of the pre-season rankings by Rich Gonzalez.
"the atmosphere in most of the CCS is that cross-country is a P.E. class. Until that changes, most (CCS) teams will not be able to hang against the Southern Section in postseason."
It's interesting that a fellow coach would think that is the reason why the Central Coast Section is not able to compete favorably against the Southern Section teams. While there are some cross country teams that may have that mindset, I would contend that many of the coaches get the most out of their teams and do not just "roll out the ball" if we are going to use the PE analogy.
One of the main reasons that the CCS teams (as well as other sections) have a hard time competing with the SS teams is that the numbers just don't add up. If you look at the size of the teams in each division, SS teams (for the most part) have a larger pool of possible runners at their schools. A typical Division I team in CCS, NCS or SJS would be a Division II or III team in the SS. I know Mountain View coach Evan Smith, who is familiar with the SS, has addressed this fact before.
So with that in mind, how can the teams in Northern California compete with the teams from Southern California? Since there is not much we can do about the numbers of each division, let's focus on what we can control. First, coaches need to continue to strive to be better coaches. Attending clinics is a great way to learn about the latest methods of training as well network with fellow motivated coaches. Tim Hunter has a great clinic every June at San Ramon Valley and last year Chris Puppione and I hosted the 1st Annual Northern California coach's roundtable on the first Saturday in January. If you are willing to drive or fly to to the LA area, clinics take place during the summer as part of the LA84 Foundation coaching education. You are doing your kids a disservice if you are just repeating the same thing year after year.
Next, we have to change out mindset about the state meet. For many teams, qualifying to the state meet is the ultimate goal made at the beginning of the season. You see many athletes, coaches and parents jumping up and down at the section finals as their teams are announced as a state meet qualifyers. While this is certainly a great achievement, coaches and athletes have to take into account where they would like to finish as the state meet as well. You have qualified to the state meet, now what? Do you want to finish in the top 10? Top 5? Top 3? State championship? Where you want to finish at the state meet needs to be accounted for or else the runners will just be happy to get a free dinner in Fresno on Friday night.
Coaches need to beat the bushes and find those runners who do not know they are runners yet. Get them out for your team. Make cross country the cool sport at your school. Do your homework. How can your team get to the state meet? What do your runners need to run? What do they need to run to be competitive at the state meet? Take them to competitive invitationals. Challenge your runners. Raise the expectations. Don't be afraid to set lofty goals. Embrace being in a competitive league or section. Your runners will rise to the challenge.
I could go on (that quote really touched a nerve) about what else can be done to be competitive at the state meet but want to open it up to the coaches, athletes and parents that are reading this. How can teams in Northern California be more successful in Fresno? What can coaches do to help their teams run faster? What about the athletes? Parents?
By the way, the state meet qualifiers have been posted on the CIF website. There was only one change which affected the NorCal sections and that was mentioned earlier with CCS losing one spot in girls' Division IV. You can check out the rest of the numbers at the following link:
Monday, August 24, 2009
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