Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Catching up with Campolindo assistant coach, Andy Lindquist

Today we chat with Campolindo assistant coach, Andy Lindquist (right in photo). Andy has been coaching at Campolindo since 2009 after he competed there for four years as an athlete. The Cougars certainly made their presence known at last year's XC state final by claiming two team titles in Division III. Many of my past interviews have been with head coaches and I think you will really enjoy getting Andy's perspective as an assistant coach on one of the top distance programs in the state.

1) What led you to run in high school? Who was your freshman high school coach and what did you learn from him?
On my first day of high school, I was sitting in PE class and some teacher came into my class and started talking about how amazing cross country was and why everyone should do it. Despite never doing anything athletic in my life, I felt so compelled by his speech that I came out for the team the next day. That person was Chris Walsh, who was the head XC coach at Campolindo from 1989-2005.

 For those of you that know "Coach," you know that he has a way with words and he has a love of running that few can match. I learned a lot from him, and I still do. It's hard to be concise when talking about everything that I've learned from him, but he really instilled a love for the sport in me that continues to this day. The current program at Campolindo would not be having all of this success if it was not for Coach and all he did for the program. We had no real history of distance running or cross country success before he arrived at the school.

2) Chuck Woolridge started coaching at Campolindo your sophomore year. What were the biggest changes you experienced as an athlete? What did you learn from Chuck during the three years that he coached you?
As many of you know, Chuck is one of the most organized and squared away coaches in the state, so coming from a completely different program in terms of training/practice/organization was really hard for me initially.

 As an athlete, I felt like I was held to a much higher standard and I had to be much more accountable than I was under Coach. In those three years with Chuck, I learned what it really meant to be devoted and dedicated to being the best possible runner. And really, I learned that if you want to be good at anything in life, you will have to devote yourself towards working on your goals day in, day out. Nothing worthwhile in life happens without sacrifice and consistency.

 3) What college did you attend, what was your major and what do you do for work now?
After bumming around community college for a few years, I wound up transferring to UC Berkeley and getting a degree in rhetoric. I find I spend more time explaining to people what a rhetoric degree is than I ever spent in class, but it was essentially a degree in persuasive writing and critical analysis.

 I currently work for an online publishing company doing proofreading, content curation, and copyediting. I also write for a music website and play in a band so I'm always constantly up to something every week. And yes, there is probably a typo or two in this interview, it’s not the end of the world people.

 4) What led you into coaching? Your first experience was following your hs graduation. What was that transition like going from competitor to coach on the same team?
After high school, I was going to a local community college and playing bass in a metal band so I did not really have much else going on. I also wanted to stay in shape, so I thought that getting into coaching for a few years would be a fun and interesting path to take.

Those first few years out of high school were challenging, and it was certainly strange to go from being teammates with people to being their coach. Looking back, I didn't do all that much coaching, I mostly ran with the kids and kept order, but it was still a great learning experience for me. Those initial years helped lay the groundwork for me in terms of developing my passion for coaching.

5) In 2015, you took over the Campolindo XC program for one season. What were some of your highlights from that season? What did you learn from that experience?
There were a lot of highlights from that season, but one that sticks out is actually a somewhat negative experience. After winning two NCS titles that season, we had big goals for State and we had a slightly off day. I remember sitting in the awards tent with my boy's team, feeling utterly dejected that a team we had beaten earlier in the season was up there on the podium.

It made me realize that I needed to dial my intensity back and not be so hard on everyone, and not be so obsessed with winning titles or getting trophies. For much of the season, I had kept people wound a bit too tightly and that finally got to us at the end of that season. It was a learning experience for me as I realized that we had to be a bit looser and enjoy the process more, not just the final destination.

6) During your time coaching at Campolindo, what have been some of the best clinics and courses you have attended to improve your coaching education?
Every clinic that Tim Hunter puts on is great, he always manages to get really interesting speakers and I am sure this year will be no different. Peanut Harms also puts on an excellent clinic at the start of each track season. In terms of courses, the USATF has a great coaching education program, and I learned a lot of useful information from attending their Level 1, 2, and 3 academies over the years. Really I have been spoiled though, as I’ve been surrounded by so many great coaches at Campolindo that I have never had to venture too far to learn more about how to run a competitive program.

7) This past season, both Campolindo teams won state titles in XC. The girls' title was not a surprise but for the boys, they had to beat a tough Maria Carrillo team that beat them at NCS. Any idea of what changed just a week later? What was the reaction of the team when they realized they won?
I knew at the start of the season that Maria Carrillo was going to be tough to beat and that it was going to take a perfect race for us to beat them. At the NCS meet we got a little too ahead of ourselves early on in the race and went out a bit too aggressively, which really hurt us in the end. We had great performances from Dylan Gunn and Alex Lodewick, but everyone else had their worst race of the year. Looking at the results from that day, I knew we could be close if we had a better overall race, and I figured we would have a better one at state. We had another week to get healthy and get our race strategy on point so that was the biggest change. Dylan Cronin, Cayden Hein, and Owen Lekki ran significantly better at state and that is what turned the tide in our favor. Since D3 is a little less crowded than some of the other divisions at state, our race plan was to get out hard and get our top 5 in the top 25 before making a big push in the middle mile and then maintaining our position in the final mile.

We were all in disbelief that we had won, it didn't seem possible with how well Maria Carrillo ran—going 1-2 at state is a pretty tough thing to overcome—but somehow, we did it. All of us were quite emotional, and even the unflappable Chuck couldn’t help but get teary-eyed.

To finally do something like that after so many years of being so close to the top was a gratifying experience, and it was a testament to just how hard those boys had worked the whole season. They were tough and resilient enough to shake off their poor performance from the week prior and run their best race of the season when it mattered the most. At Campolindo, the boy’s team has perennially been in the shadow of the success of the girl’s team for a very long time, so winning our first boy’s title was a dream come true. I know it meant a lot to our current boys but also to our entire alumni network and community.

8) From your perspective, why do you think the Campolindo teams have been so successful in the cross country?
There are a couple of key reasons why we have been so successful, each one has its importance and each one is critical to creating the environment of success. I know some of you reading this are looking for some magical answer, but there are so many factors that go into running a team that it's not possible to distill things down to one easy answer.

 First, we have a great parent support network. Our parents are awesome and they really support the program and the vision we have as coaches. The community as a whole at Campolindo is really supportive of athletics and it provides us with a great environment to work in.

 Second, we have a motivated group of athletes who want to work hard and train year-round. I can't say enough about the drive and ambition these kids have shown over the years. And it's not just the training aspect but also balancing running with school and getting adequate sleep and nutrition. These athletes have bought into the system and they set lofty goals, so it's our job as coaches to take them there.

Third, our athletes buy into the team concept of cross country and they want to do their best to help our team succeed. They are happy to put in the work and race hard because they know how great the feeling of satisfaction is when the team does well at a meet.

 Fourth, in terms of training, we spend a lot of time training our athletes to be ready to run their best at the end of the season Hayward HS and Woodward Park. We also spend a lot of time developing a race strategy that will put us in a position to do well. By the end of the season, every athlete knows what they have to do individually to help us as a team and that makes things a bit easier to manage.

For those of you who want more technical explanations, we focus more on long term aerobic development and not doing any super hard workouts during the season. We also race sparingly during the regular season. We tend to shy away from going to a bunch of big meets and taking time away from our training by racing too much. Using this kind of approach, we are able to continue building our fitness until the end of the season.

We’ve certainly done a better job of this in recent years as our postseason performances have shown, but it is something we’re constantly working on. The training always changes slightly from season to season as we’re always trying to make things work just a little bit better.

9) What do you feel are your strengths as an assistant coach that contribute to the success of the team?
I am a bit more approachable than other people on our staff and I am younger, so I can relate to the athletes a bit better. I have a direct style of coaching and I try to have a calm, focused demeanor at practices and competitions. I find that this energy is infectious and it rubs off on the athletes. I also know when to keep things light and help ease the tension at practice or competition.

10) I usually ask these questions to athletes but will ask you as well. Favorite XC course? Favorite XC invitational? Favorite XC workout? Favorite TF invitational? Favorite TF event? Favorite TF workout? Favorite free time activity? 
Tough call, but I love the three-mile course at Hidden Valley Park, it is a beast.

We have really enjoyed going to the Capital Cross Challenge the past few years, the course is great and the meet staff is super easy to work with.

My favorite XC workout right now would be a timed fartlek workout we do that decreases in time but increases in intensity as the workout progresses.

My favorite track invitational is the Dublin Distance Fiesta. Chris Williams does a fantastic job of putting it together, and every year it is a great experience for our program.

We change our workouts quite a bit, but the one track workout we’ve been doing in recent years has been 4 x 400 at 1600 race pace, followed by 4 x 200 at 800 race pace. We do it towards the end of the season and it’s great to see people really unleash in a workout (something we rarely get to do).

In my free time, I go to way too many concerts, though I have been trying to cut down a bit more in recent years.

11) What would be your advice for a relatively young coach starting out in coaching? What about for someone starting out as an assistant?
My suggestion for any young coach out there is to plan out and think about what kind of program you are willing to run, and how much time you are willing to invest in your team. If you want your team to be competitive in your league, that will take a certain amount of investment on your part, and your level of commitment and time will have to increase if you want to be competitive at your section and even more so if you want to be competitive at the state level. Also, you have to consider the environment at your school in terms of your facilities and geographic location. What works for us is not going to work for every situation, so you will really have to figure out what is going to be best for your athletes and best for yourself as a coach. There is enough information out there for you to put together a strong training program, but the best training program in the world on paper will not work in every situation.

Being an assistant coach is a gratifying experience and assistants do not get enough credit, but they are vital pieces of any coaching staff. I would strongly encourage someone who is thinking of being an assistant to give it a shot. Just keep in mind that your role is to support the head coach, so it’s important that you are both on the same page with what your responsibilities are.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
Thank you so much for all the work you put into covering high school cross country and track Albert. Your site has developed into such a great resource for Northern California track/xc. The work you’ve been putting on Milesplit has been great as well. It is amazing to see that there is so much great coverage out there for our sport, especially here in the Bay Area. Cross country and track athletes are some of the hardest working people in the sports world and there has typically been very little coverage of them, especially at the high school level.

Keep up the great work!

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