Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Catching up with Granada HS coach Noel Mattern...

Today we chat with Granada HS coach, Noel Mattern.  His girls just finished an undefeated season in the EBAL by winning the league final race defeating fellow Division I state hopeful Amador Valley and Division II favorite, San Ramon Valley.  Granada is led by one of the fastest freshman in the state of California, Sophie Hartley.  Noel, along with his brother Jeremy, ran at Irvington HS and were then reunited at UC Davis.
1)  How did you get your start in running?  What other sports did you play during your younger days?
I played four years of varsity soccer.  I was forced to run by the soccer coach who also coached cross country.  He was in charge of in-school suspension and on the first day of my sophomore year I was called to his room.  He told me to sit down.  I don't know how long I waited for Coach Sinnott to speak but it seemed like a long time.  I was scared of him as he never smiled during soccer.  He then asked me when I would be out for cross country and I said "today."  I didn't know what it was.  I was second in the first two FS races that I ran.  I won the third FS race and from that point on I was hooked.  I also played three years of badminton until my senior year when I decided to try track because I figured it would be the last time to run with my brother.   

2)  What were some of your highlights during your time at Irvington HS?
My brother and I went 1-2 in a lot of dual meets.  That was fun.  I really liked the Crystal Springs Invite, and I got one of the coveted long sleeve t-shirts one year.  I still have it.   In track we won our first dual meet in over 13 years.

3)  What about your experience at UC Davis?
I transferred into Davis after one year at UOP.  My brother, Jeremy, had started working with Bobby Grubbs (the Alameda county 2 mile record holder) and Grubbs told me that I could be faster and could make the Davis team.  So I went to try-outs and made the team.  I was never a point scorer.  I ran 4 years of cross country and only two years of track.  I met my wife on the cross country team so things worked out very well for me. 

4)  How did you get into coaching? 
I made up a lot of the training that my brother and I did in high school.  We didn't know what to do, but we thought it should be hard.  Once we ran up Mission Peak, then went to Garin Park and ran 6 miles or more, and then the next morning we got up and ran Mission Peak again.  We really had no idea what we were doing.  At Davis I had some setbacks during my sophomore and junior years with illness and knee injuries.  After the junior cross season I decided that I would skip track and build up my mileage.  I coached myself during that time.  The training went well so I decided to take the minimum number of units and do one more cross season.  It paid off.  When I started teaching at Granada I was recruited to help coach track by Brad Morisoli, and it eventually developed into the head coaching position. 

5)  Who were the coaches that helped mold you into the coach you are today?
Bill Sinnott, Bobby Grubbs, Sue Williams, Brett Kimple, and Brad Morisoli have all influenced me in one way or another.  Phil Wilder of Moreau let my brother and me run twice a week with his team during the summer when we were in high school.  He then took us to running camp.  He really opened our eyes to distance running and we will be forever grateful for him.  But the two most important positive coaching influences have been my brother Jeremy and my wife Sarah.   They have given me an amazing amount of love, support and insight.

6)  Tell us a little about your brother, where he coaches and how you have helped each other when it comes to coaching your teams.
Jeremy was a strong runner in high school and college.  He coaches the boys cross country and track teams at Brea-Olinda HS.  They just won the Century league at all three levels and should be a contender for the DIII state title.  We share a lot of training ideas, try to help each other when we think there's a problem, and we support each others' programs unconditionally.  We went down to Brea this season and raced in their meet.  It was a great experience. 

7)  What is your training philosophy during the 3 key points of the season?
Be consistent, be healthy, and be happy.   We believe that these three things enable us to run well all year.  During the summer we focus on building our base miles and lengthening our long run.  In the competition phase we emphasize race pace workouts.  For championships we want to freshen up and stay healthy.  We touch on speed year round.   

8)  What does a sample week look like from those 3 points of the season?
Summer: M: 3x1-2k tempo sessions. T: medium length run...8 miles. W: hill work. T: medium length run. F: fartlek.  S: long run...9-12 miles. S: on your own easy or day off.

Competitive: M: One of the following: 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, or 1600 repeats at race pace effort on XC terrain.  T: medium length run.  W: hill work or fartlek.  T: medium length run.  F: pre-race.  S: race.  S: on your own 20-45 minutes easy.

Championship: basically the same as competitive but less quantity.  May take the Monday workout to the track depending on what I think the athlete needs.  Long run is shortened down to a medium length 8-9 miles.

I think we're a medium mileage team.     

9)  What do you do with your team to help them deal with the mental side of distance running?
As far as developing mental toughness, we have a hill in Livermore that has been named "Fatty" before my time.  It's difficult and they feel like they can accomplish a lot after that.  In the summer, I take the kids camping and we run up Mt. Whittenberg in Point Reyes.  It's about 2 miles.  My wife did this when she was in high school running for Coach King at Del Campo.  I think they still run it too.  For races we tell athletes to be calm.  To focus on the things that we can control.  

10)  Any fun things you do with your team for practices?
Our pre-race routine includes telling jokes.  During the winter on a miserable day we have a dance-off competition instead of running.  It's hilarious!  In the summer the girls take turns bringing food to practice, and the kids have more time to hang out together after runs.  I let the captains organize other fun team events.  Our girl team captain, Carina Novell, has done an awesome job planning and organizing a ton of fun team activities this year.  

11)  What would be your advice for a young coach just starting out who wants to build a competitive program?
First spend your time creating and building your team culture.  Once the athletes love being a part of the culture they will buy into the sport and they will want to train.  Second, watch the Long Green Line about 100 times and copy Joe Newton as much as possible.  I love that guy.  Third, I think I'm still a young coach and feel that I'm learning all the time from all the coaches in EBAL, from clinics, and mostly from athletes.  So I guess that means the advice is to try to learn all the time and listen to what others say.  Then adapt it to the needs of your team.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
Cross Country Express is a great resource and I appreciate all the time and effort that you put into it.

Thank you very much for your time Noel!  AJC


Coach Pup said...

One of the best guys I know in the sport, not to mention a fine teacher and leader. Keep it rolling, Noel.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Thanks for promoting our sport, Cross Country Express. Noel is definitely one of the top two Mattern coaches in the state :) I'm glad Noel mentioned Phil Wilder. Coach Wilder, if you read this, thanks for teaching a couple of kids who did not even attend your school. We really learned a lot from our experience running with Moreau.

- Jeremy Mattern

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