Monday, December 29, 2014

Catching up with Central Valley Christian coach, Scott Kostelyk...

Today we chat with Central Valley Christian coach, Scott Kostelyk. This past Cross Country season, the Central Valley Christian girls won the Division IV state team championship after a 2nd place finish in the Division V the previous season. Despite being a school with only 262 students, CVC was moved up to Division IV this past season courtesy of the Central Section's "competitive equality" protocol. The 2nd place finishing team at state, Bishop Amat, has an enrollment greater than 1,400 students. Competitive equality indeed. Despite the odds, CVC had a tremendous season and with 6 of their top 7 returning next year, look for them to contend for another podium finish in 2015.

1) What is your own athletic background. When did you start getting involved in sports? What sports did you play?
I’ve always played sports recreationally.  I grew up in Indiana, so everyone plays basketball there.  I played golf, ran track and played volleyball in high school.  After that, I received a small scholarship for golf in college.

2) What are some of your own proudest achievements as an athlete (before, during and/or after high school)?  
I once scored 17 points during warm-ups for my 7th grade basketball team.  But seriously, I’m not a great athlete, I just enjoy sports.  I still water-ski avidly, my goal is to barefoot water-ski every summer until I’m in my 60’s (I turn 40 this winter).  I run pretty much daily.  I set my 5k PR in my early 30’s at 17:39, which is good, but not great.

3) Who are the coaches that had the biggest impact on your as an athlete and what did you learn from them that you carry with you to this day?
I had a coach, Dave Veldhorst, in Junior High for basketball, who was a very positive person and role model.  He was always an encourager, and that is the way I try to coach as well.  I have always felt like you get the most out of kids by focusing on the things the kids are doing right.

4) How long have you been coaching at Central Valley Christian? 
15 years now!
What was the state of the program when you first arrived?
We had 4 guys and 2 girls, and we weren’t very good.  But we’ve always had the best kids in the school on the team.

5) Your girls finished in 2nd place last year in Division V. When did a potential podium finish get in your team's radar? 
I think I realized we had a shot at the podium when the twins (Jenna and Jadyn Wilson – both freshmen at the time) committed to running.  Their older sister ran for our team in 2007, and we knew that the twins were great athletes who we hoped we’d be able to turn them into runners too.
What was the biggest challenge during the season?
In 2013 - We had three first year runners with a lot of raw talent, but not much experience (Gabby Satterlee, Jenna Wilson, and Jadyn Wilson).  So developing them was our biggest challenge.  In 2014 – our biggest challenge was being moved up into division 4.  Suddenly instead of having to beat teams that were similarly sized, or somewhat larger than us (we have 262 students at CVC), we were having to beat teams that were 5-6 times larger than us.  Many of the schools we competed against at state have grades that have more students than our school.

6) The Central Section moved your team up to Division IV this season based on the success of the 2013 team. What was your immediate reaction and when do you think you started to focus on your new challenge in a new division?
We were frustrated.  But we have been frustrated for a long time with this system.  Our school’s volleyball team is annually one of the finest in the state.  They have been moved up all the way to division 2 now.  Last year, in volleyball, we lost in the division 3 State Championship game to Valley Christian (San Jose)from the CCS which had 1370 students.  Our girls' soccer team has also been moved up all the way to division 2 as well.  We don’t care what division we compete in at the section meet, but when we go to State, we would like the playing field to be level.  This year, we didn’t really focus on any division until after October 22.  That was when the cross-country advisory committee’s proposal to add an open division to our section championship, which would have allowed some teams to compete in their natural enrollment divisions, didn’t pass.  We didn’t really start focusing on any teams in particular until the week of state.  Our goal this season was to run a 96:00(or even under) as a team, and we knew we would be in contention regardless of what division we were in.  When we ran a 96:50 at the Central Section Championships at Woodward, we thought we could possibly break 96 minutes at the State Meet.  And even then, at the state meet, we didn’t put to much pressure on the girls to finish first.  We just asked the girls to run their best race, and if that meant 1st or 4th we didn’t really care.

7) What are your expectations for your runners during the summer? 
We (my assistant coach Randy VanderTuig) run with the kids 3 days a week, and we expect them to run 2 more days a week on their own.
Any camps?
Biggest motivation for them to run over the summer? 
We (Randy and I) love running, so we try to make it fun and enjoyable for the kids.  We don’t push very hard in terms of speed, but we constantly increase mileage to build base.

8) What does a typical week look like for your runners with a Saturday Invitational? Workouts? Typical mileage? What else do you do aside from running that you feel is just as important to your team's success?
We actually have morning practices most of the time.  It’s so hot here in the valley through October that we feel, to have effective practices, they have to be in the morning.  We meet at 6:15 am, and run at 6:30.  We have a variety of different practices, including typical track workouts, hill repeats, grass tempo runs, and the lighter/recovery days.  We are a very low mileage squad, we probably peak out at 30 miles/week.  But because we are such a small school, we need to keep all of our athletes healthy, so we don’t push the mileage too hard.  But we probably do a much higher percentage of quality miles in a week than most schools.  On top of that, most of our varsity runners are involved in some other sport, whether it be varsity volleyball at the school, varsity tennis, or even club soccer.  Staying healthy is always one of our biggest concerns considering how active the kids are.

9) Who are the coaches that have had the biggest impact on you currently and that you can lean on during the season?
My assistant/co-coach is a very accomplished ultra-marathoner.  He finished 4th in the Angeles Crest 100 this past summer running the 100 mile course in 20 hours 49 minutes.  He is definitely keyed into the nutritional aspect of the kids training.  Randy and I are friends first, and so we work really well together, and we spend quite a bit of time bouncing ideas off each other.

10) Aside from the current Central Section format, how much of an advantage is it for the CS teams to compete at Woodward Park for the state meet? 
Many teams from all over the state come run the Woodward course during the season at either the Clovis Invite, or the RoughRider Invite.  I don’t know if it as much of an advantage that we get to compete at the Woodward course more, as it is an advantage for the kids to sleep in their own beds and eat food in their own kitchens the night before the state meet and even the morning of the state meet.

11) What changes would you like to see to the current state meet format?
I think it’s imperative that we move to a system where the sections send whoever they want to the state meet.  And then, at the state meet, the teams are put into divisions that are set by the state.  So division 1 may be 2400 students and up, division 2 would be 1900-2400 students.  Division 3 would be 1300-1900 students.  Division 4 would be 600-1300 students.  And division 5 could be 0-600 students.  And the CBED numbers don’t matter, they could be altered, but the level playing field does.  Each section using different numbers for divisions makes such a difference in the state meet.  The two most discerning factors to developing a great cross-country team are 1.) School size, and 2.) Committed coaches.  Everyone in cross-country knows this I think, and we need to have the state set divisions before more sections go to a competitive equity model like our section has done.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
Thanks for all your work and your interest in our program.

Thank you very much for your time Scott! AJC


Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Scott, especially against those odds.

And're whacked!

Competitive equality??? That simply put is ridiculous.

You are punishing teams that work hard to excel! What bother trying to do well in any sport if the CCS is going to punish you by taking a school in the low 200s and putting them against schools with over a thousand.

Maybe a coach might purposely not do well to stay in a lower division. Ya think?

hkuphaldt said...

Congrats on a fantastic season! I agree with the idea of having state standards for enrollments at the state meet. Unfortunately your success this season is probably going to push your team up to Div III next season. In this "Competitive equality" system the Central Section will keep pushing you up divisions until you fail to qualify for the state meet ... See McFarland. Absolutely stupid system! It needs to change.

Albert Caruana said...

From emailing Scott, the Central Section goes by a 3 year cycle so they will remain in Division IV for 2 more years.

Anonymous said...

What is the likelihood that the CCS will put an end to their system of inequality over the next 2 years?

I cannot imagine any coach and/or school who actually supports and wants this.

Albert Caruana said...

This is the Central Section (CS). You can read more about past proposals at the link below. From the looks of it, I don't think any changes will be taking place anytime soon. I believe change will have to come from the state level.

Inside Source said...

There will be an open/championship division at state within three years I promise you.

Anonymous said...

Albert, thanks for the correction to CS.

Read the blog at prepcaltrack. It is mindboggling why CS likes their "competitive equality" rule.

I personally believe this stems from rewarding mediocrity where every child earns a ribbon no matter their performance. The child who trains hard and manifests excellence earns a ribbon along with the child who did not want to be there, had a bad attitude, stomped their feet, and yet, we all have to be faaaaairrrr.

Interestingly, small schools who do well frequently do so because they have several athletes who are very gifted. Once these athletes graduate, that small school finds itself gutted and may not attain that level of performance for a very long time. Yet, in the CS, they could find themselves stuck for at least three years in Div IV or III.

I am sure every and all arguments have been made to the powers to be at the CS and have fallen on deaf ears. Sad that seemingly intelligent adults promote such lunacy. You're correct that no corrective action will be forthcoming unless it comes from the state level.

Coach Small said...

I have multiple friends who coach in the central section, from the larger Clovis schools to the outlying smaller communities, and can tell you the coaches I know are not in favor of this format.

The equity system does not stem from the "everyone gets a ribbon" mantra, but rather the opposite. They want the best teams competing against one another. This is no different than a championship or seeded race at invitationals and in theory I think it's what we want to see, the best race the best. The central section views D1 exactly as that top tier division and want to preserve that level of competition within their section.

The issue therein is that we have a state championship. Then you have teams with smaller enrollments competing at a disadvantage. Throw in the "formula" that rewards sections for top 10 finishes and things get messy. In addition if we had state cbed placement at the state level you lose the idea of a geographic state meet. The top division would essentially be another SS race with a few Nor Cal schools. People don't want to see that either.

You have to remember that there are a lot of people with a lot of opinions. It is an "unfair" system but there are also kids running 15:30ish in the SS that do not qualify for state. Personally I like the idea of reseeding after the state meet after the section qualifiers are determined. However there are just as many with the opinion to do away with divisions all together and put the top 20 or so teams and top individuals in one race.

I think the current system is the best there is at the moment. One thing I would like to see is the addition of an "individual" race. Since individual performance is not indicative to the size of your school the divisions don't matter. Qualifying individuals from their divisional races at the section level can be placed in a sixth race allowing individuals to compete into their own separate race. This will allow additional teams to qualify and will mean each runner means something.

Anonymous said...

Do an athlete interview for all the norcal first teamers!

Anonymous said...

Is Coach Small not at Valley Christian any more?

Anonymous said...

"Is Coach Small not at Valley Christian any more?"

Central Valley Christian (CS) =/= Valley Christian San Jose (CCS)

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