Friday, October 07, 2011

Catching up with Woodcreek HS coach, Terri McKillop...

 Today we chat with Woodcreek HS coach, Terri McKillop (picture to the left courtesy of the Woodcreek HS track and field site at  In the latest ESPN Rise state meet rankings, her boys' team is currently ranked 10th in Division II.  They finished in 2nd place at the Stanford Invitational behind section rival Bella Vista HS by a score of 101 to 115 and recorded the 8th fastest team time overall at the meet.  The Woodcreek girls finished in 1st place at Stanford and had the 13th best team time overall.  They are currently not ranked in state in the uber competitive Division II field but with only 7 Southern Section schools that can qualify to the state meet, Woodcreek will have a great shot of breaking into the top 10 come late November at Woodward Park.

1)  What sports did you participate during your youth and through college?  Favorite sport?
There were no organized sports for girls when I was young so I grew up playing baseball and football with the neighborhood boys.  My dad was transferred to McClellan AFB the end of my 8th grade year (1970) and that was the first time I ever got a chance to participate in athletics.  I ran 8th grade track and loved it but unfortunately there wasn't track or cross country for girls in high school.  I played tennis, basketball and softball for the first teams ever for girls in the San Juan Unified School district.  In college, I played Field Hockey, Basketball and Softball because they didn't offer track for the women.  My favorite sport was field hockey because it was a running sport and I loved the ability to actually get to run!!

2)  What led you into teaching and coaching?  What is the most rewarding part of teaching?
I always loved playing sports and learning about staying fit and I naturally gravitated that way in college, I started out pre-med and learned quickly that I didn't want to be in college that long to be a doctor!  The most rewarding part of teaching is seeing my students "get it" for the first time and when they come back years later and thank you for helping them and believing in them.

3)  What other sports have you coached besides cross country and track and field?
I have coached just about everything.  I started out as a rec program coach of flag football and then coached and taught swimming for 5 years.  My first teaching job led me into JV Volleyball, JV Basketball and Varsity Softball.  I moved to Roseville in 1989 with my husband and started coaching Track & Field because it was a better fit for me as a young mother with two small boys.

4)  How did you end up at Woodcreek HS and when did you start there?
I moved from Roseville HS to Woodcreek the year it opened in 1994-95.  I transferred so I could be a department coordinator and be a Cross Country and Track coach.  I was an assistant Cross country coach until 1998 when I officially took over the program.

5)  Who have been your mentors when it comes to coaching distance runners?

I have had many mentors through the years.  I have watched and learned from great coaches such as Bob King and Walt Lange and have spent many hours talking with other great coaches in the area.  My sister Shannon Sweeney and her husband Tim Minor(Galena) have encouraged and given advice through the years but most importantly my assistant coach and good friend Jeff Hildebrandt has been my mentor and supporter from the start.  He keeps me centered and grounded and has been a great confidence booster.  His knowledge of training and racing is the best around, having been an Oregon State runner and Oregon national champion in high school.

6)  Your teams have been quite successful in recent years including a highly successful Stanford Invitational last week.  Can you identify some runners at Woodcreek HS that helped elevate the program to what it is today?

Well, it takes that first good runner to set the example of what "CAN" be accomplished and we have been blessed with quite a few great runners to kick start the program.  Matt Johnsrud, Calvin Glass, Cameron Mitchell, Chris Romo, Garrett Seawell, Lauren Mulkey, Alex Ciaraglia, Courtney Crosta to name a few have set numerous records and competed at the state and college level.  They have done a lot to get our program noticed and to help set the examples of hard work and integrity.

7)  What are your expectations for your runners during the summer?
We run a full summer training program that meets four nights a week and Saturday morning long run for advanced runners.  We encourage all runners to participate as much as they can and we require our varsity runners to be a part of the summer program if they want to be on the fall roster.  We try to run one to two summer camps for additional team bonding.  We believe that summer training is the first step in "Commitment."  It also allows us to build relationships with the athletes and for the athletes to build relationships with each other.  It helps us foster our core values of  Integrity, Character, Commitment and Respect. (ICCR)

8)  What does a typical week look like for your team early season?  Mid season?  Late Season?  Key workouts?
Well we believe the season starts in June and early base training is the key to developing a strong program, our summer consists of purely base training, no workouts sprinkled with fun in the water, camping and group picnics.  We move into the early season with two double-days and two long recovery days with one cross training day and a long run or hill run on Saturdays with an emphasize on strength.  Mid season stays about the same with alterations for key meets and the start of speed components, going into the late season with moderate runs and speed taking a bigger role.  Key Workouts.....Lots of hill repeats, mile repeats, 100's, 800's and interval minute on/off workouts.  They are all key areas to work on for well rounded runners.

9)  When it comes to the SJS, what are the key courses and most popular invitationals?
Well, we love Stanford and Clovis to get the athletes ready for state competition, but try to run at least twice on the Section course at Willow Hills.  Our kids love the 4000 meets at Del Oro and league championships at William Jessup and have added the Hornet Invitational as an early season look at the competition.  We try to train out at Willow hill quite a bit even though it is an hour commute, but feel it is worth it for the athletes to see the course a couple of times outside of racing.

10)  I asked earlier about the most rewarding part of teaching.  What about coaching?

Running with athletes, and watching them finally figure out what Cross Country is all about.  I love the bonding and the small teaching moments you get on a 10 mile run.  I love seeing how committed the kids are to the program and each other.  I love the whole nature of the sport, where everybody is important and a crucial part of the team.  I could go on and on, but it is the most rewarding sport I have ever coached and it is a privilege to watch the runners develop into such awesome young women and men.

11)  What is your advice for a new coach who wants to establish a competitive program at their current school?
Be consistent and fair.  Set your standards high and stick to them. Treat all your athletes the same regardless of their talent.  If you would pull a mediocre runner for missing practice then make sure the #1 runner is held to the same standard.  Be willing to give up your summer and Saturdays to build your program, and do the little extra things, like team dinners, group outing to the lake, etc.  Finally, try to run as much as you can on dirt trails, even if you have to drive a little!

12)  Anything else you would like to add.
No. I think that covers it!

Thank you very much for your time Terri!  AJC

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