Thursday, January 05, 2012

Reid column: At Mountain View, a coach's saga all too familiar

Mountain View track and field coach Steve Kemp resigned Dec. 14. It had to be a tough decision for Kemp, who had a good chance of winning the school's first Central Coast Section girls track and field championship in the spring.
"I thought about it for a long time," said Kemp, a native of Canada.
Kemp's saga is typical of what all coaches, not just track and field coaches, encounter. Kemp's story, though, is a bit different in that he has gone a combined 24-0 in both boys and girls Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division dual meets in his two seasons. The boys were second at the CCS track and field meet in 2010, Kemp's first season.
The Spartan girls were second to Mount Pleasant-San Jose by four points at last spring's CCS championship. Every girl, but one, that scored for Mountain View is returning. That includes a discus champ, a shot put champ, an 800 and 1,600 meters runner-up, plus a high jump runner-up. Three of four runners from a second-place 1,600-meter relay team return.
You want to win a CCS girls track and field title in your first year? The job is open, but be careful. There are land mines along the way. I talked at length with Kemp last week about his plight. On, the website he uses for his personal training business, "Born to Win," Kemp sent a letter to his team and their parents outlining the reasons why he stepped down.
To read the rest of this article, go to the following link:


2120 South Michigan Avenue said...

I know it's especially hard for the athletes, now that they've lost another coach. First Smith, then Stiles in cross country and now Kemp for track. But I think in the end no matter who is the new coach, they'll still have a stellar track season. I mean, when they lost Smith for the 2010 track season, they still had a great season. And then when they lost him and then Stiles for the 2010 XC season, they still went to the state meet and overall had a good XC season.

I think track wise, they'll be fine no matter who the new coach is. Other schools, if faced with the same situation, might react differently. Some athletes at other schools might quit.

But from my observations, the athletes of the MV track team are a dedicated bunch. I think they'll be fine. But then again, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Seems like the coaching was spread awfully thin at MV. As a parent, if the coach doesn't have time to coach effectively at practice, I'd seek outside coaching if my child needed it. That said, I'd coordinate with the HS and outside coach, as well. There really is room for both-especially in a situation where the HS coach is overwhelmed.

Anonymous said...

This was the same reason that Smith left, mostly due to a certain athlete doing his own thing/the parent interfering and demanding other coaching styles.

Anonymous said...

The parents are either in, or in your way.

Awalt Spartans will still live on.

Good luck coach Kemp.

Anonymous said...

This situation is going on all too often. Seriously, how many kids have private coaches interfering. With distance they are training with RF United or in Los Gatos; in Sprints there at Gunderson. Personally I am tired of outside coaches acting like they are the end all to the sport, "recruit" the most talented kids who would win anyways and claim to be the best coach around. Well guess what, my mom could coach Bishop or Waschura or Stuges to a PR too. Why? because they could do it all by them self. Are the only top runners without a private coach from the SCCAL? Come on Silicon Valley parents, don't drink the cool aid.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said..."This was the same reason that Smith left, mostly due to a certain athlete doing his own thing/the parent interfering and demanding other coaching styles."

Incorrect. Neither coach was given the option to stay by MVHS administration. Parents and athletes don't make these decisions, AD's and principals make them. Coaches generally don't run into problems if the athletes support them.

52 of the 58 points the Mountain View girls scored at CCS last year came from 4 girls, all back this year. One distance runner, one jumper, two throwers, none coached by Kemp who handled sprinters.

Evan Smith said...

I love anonymous posters. I chose to stop coaching, and I am happy with my decision. To all the parents and athletes that were great to work with, thanks for the great years. I simply no longer wanted to deal with the one or two parents with their own agenda.

2120 South Michigan Avenue said...

To Evan Smith......

I meant no disrespect by mentioning your name if it was me who you were referring to you in your post. I did not mean to imply that the Mountain View XC/track teams are perfectly functional without you as a coach. Even though, from my observation the athletes have been able to adjust smoothly, for the most part, with the coach changes, I am sure there are many athletes at Mountain View who missed you and still miss you as a coach.

I'm not gonna delve into whether or not I think you should return to coaching. I don't know enough about the circumstances for why you left, and it's not my business anyway for why you left.

But as a runner who (although not a graduate of Mountain View) observed and saw how great Mountain View was and continues to be, I think a lot of their greatness can and should be attributed to you, although not solely to you of course.

Once again, sorry if my original post was offensive. Who knows, maybe we'll see you coaching again one day haha.

2120 South Michigan Avenue

Tommy Rutner said...

What everyone seems not to notice is the absolute exodus of coaches from MVHS in the time that John Payne, the AD, has held his position, more than 10 coaching positions will have had to have been filled. Regardless of the issues involving outside coaches, this clearly is a reflection of the spineless efforts by the administration or lack thereof. If the issues were merely by Smith or Kemp then this would not be the case. Cross country (three times), soccer, water polo, baseball, track, basketball, and football have all needed new coaches in just over a year. This issue at MVHS is much larger than just Kemp, Smith, and Bordoni, the administration needs a massive change and soon before we are left with no coaches.

MV Alumni said...

Very nice email Tommy. It's not only the MVHS administration, it seems like many school adminstrations push out the coaches that are successful. If people can't see how screwed up John Payne is then they are living with blinders on. The bad part is the athletes can't get any consistency in training because of the constant changes. In this case maybe the parent who wanted a private coach only wanted some consistency for their son/daughter. Sad situation all the way around.

Anonymous said...

"What everyone seems not to notice is the absolute exodus of coaches from MVHS in the time that John Payne, the AD, has held his position..."

Well said.

I read the article and as I read the numerous coaches resigning in recent years, the question is rather obvious: Is the problem the coaches or is it John Payne?

I don't even know the guy, but considering he "hired" Kemp, did not support him with assistants, made him coach four team (have you ever heard of one guy having to coach girls and boys varsity and JV basketball for instance???), did not provide Kemp uniforms, gave him lack of transportion and it sounds like he blamed Kemp for that, sends out surveys, which we all know kids give little thought to these things as far as ramifications, lets kids decide if they will practice or not and train privately (again, can you imagine this happening in football, some kid has his own private coach and doesn't come to practice??), I mean can you blame Kemp for bailing.

I think the warning to others that this position is a minefield is a HUGE understatement.

BTW, scholarship or not, you don't come to my practices, you don't run, period.

Anonymous said...

There is so much information in these comments and Kemp's article that is false and misleading.

Just to give you a sample, it was mentioned that all these coaches left MVHS because of the administration. Here is why these coaches left:
Soccer - moved on to coach at a higher level
Water Polo - got suspended from games by refs due to behavior
Baseball - family issue
Basketball - don't know about this one
Volleyball - didn't have time to coach anymore (got a new day job I think)
Football - had been planning to move on for a few years (he was the one who hired Payne, so he didn't leave because of Payne!)
XC (Bordoni) - is not leaving MVHS, just wants to be an asst. coach

Anonymous said...

Bottom line coaching is hard...

When you are a minor sport, no support from administration, not enough coaches, burnt out, private coaches bad mouthing you behind your back and get no appreciation from the parents or kids but rather complaints and put downs it is all too easy to walk away.

As I said, coaching is hard. The fact is no one really cares and everyone knows better.

Anonymous said...

Any insight why the MV coach didn't limit the team - considering there was no help/assistant coaches, limited transportation and uniforms? When coaches don't cut (some don't care one bit about running - just using it for their college apps), it makes the parents seek outside coaching. Which comes first - outside coaches or coaches that don't have the resources/time to give to their better athletes?

Anonymous said...

This is high school right? How hard is it to run 16 x 400 @ 5k pace with a 200 jog recovery. Do you needa babysitter? I would hope the quality dedicated runners at MV could handle something like this.

Anonymous said...

"considering there was no help/assistant coaches"

Mountain View did have several assistant coaches. Granted, some event groups were not completely covered, but it's incorrect to state that there was only one track coach for the entire team.

Anonymous said...

MVHS had/has 4 great assistant coaches (one for throws, one for hurdles, one for distance, and one for jumps) during the track season. They also have a lot of parent volunteers who help run the home meets, provide transportation, and anything else that is asked of them. There was/is plenty of support.

Anonymous said...

"This is high school right? How hard is it to run 16 x 400 @ 5k pace with a 200 jog recovery. Do you needa babysitter? I would hope the quality dedicated runners at MV could handle something like this."

Sounds like a workout designed for mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

Silly, silly over-involved parent. Please share your awesome workout ideas.

So you know I think every GREAT high school program has done this workout at one point or another and was just a general example.

Colleges like the one down the street (it goes by the name of Stanford), you know, the one with national titles? Well back in my day on the farm we would run 20-24 x 400 @ 5k pace. If All-America national Champions and Olympians run 20 every now and then I think 16 is appropriate for High School.

Have you ever tried 16 x 400 @ 5k pace with a 200 float jog (that's about 60-770 seconds)? It's a tough workout.

Think about it...for the top boys in CCS that is 72's and Girls 82-ish.

We are talking about elite high school 5k runners here, not your slow 25 min 5k time. Still I suggest you dust off the running shoes and give it a try it and report back about.

But I am sure you know more than Vin Lannana.

Anonymous said...

Ok ladies keep it civil before this gets shut down.

My vote is that 16 x 400 @ 5k is nothing pretty but a good test and should be done for 2 milers 1-3 times a season. Of course the last few the pace always quickens. This certainly works the VO2 Max and helps lactate tolerance, an important part in running 3200-5000 meters. Or so Dr. Jack Daniels graph says.

It think the issue here is you need on campus coaches. It is hard to retain commuter coaches and you will see turnover at most high schools. The long term successful coaches are usually all employed at the school. (i.e. Bellarmine, SHC, St. Francis, Aptos, SLV, Hollister, Salinas, Carmel, Mitty, etc. (of course there are exceptions).

But if the "mediocre workout" comment came from a parent for what really is a decent 2 mile / XC workout than that is just a hint of what is going on there. Just imagine what is going on behind the coaches back after practices? Anyone smart isn't going to go near that place!

Rob Collins said...

FYI:I'm a Coach at SLV, And Have been there since fall of 98 and I am Not a On Post Coach and my assistant also doesn't coach at the High school either, Never have been, Just Trying to work normal job in this economy and Just dealing with life in General! A program is what a coach wants to make of it!

Anonymous said...

Rob... would you agree or disagree with 16 x 400 is a bad workout?

I don;t care if Stanford does it...

Albert Caruana said...

I don't think you can answer your question with a simple yes or no. I would say that it's a good workout if the coach progressed his team logically to completing 16 x 400 repeats and they believed that it is a good workout. I would say no if the workout is just done randomly out of the blue and no rhyme or reason for doing the workout.

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