Friday, June 14, 2024

Catching up with former Great Oak and current Herriman coach, Doug Soles

Today we chat with former Great Oak and current Herriman coach, Doug Soles. Over more than a decade, Coach Soles has been one of the most successful cross country and track and field coaches in the nation as you will see below. During covid, Coach Soles completed his first book which is a blueprint for coaching a super successful team. I read the book and would highly recommend it to any coaches out there looking for a great book to read this summer. Coach Soles is also very generous with his time and happy to help any coaches that want to reach out to him with any questions they may have about their own teams.

1) What was your own athletic background and some of your highlights?
I was always one of the faster and more agile kids when I was younger. I grew up in a running family, with my Uncle Rob Durkee being an Oregon XC Champion when I was a kid, which inspired all of us to run. We used to just go to the track and run around and have fun. It wasn’t ever anything structured, but always fun to see what we could do. I did almost every sport at some point, but running was always my strong suit.

As I got older, it was easy to recognize that my quickness and speed lent itself more to shorter races over long ones, so I went in the direction of sprints in jr. high and high school. I ended up at Seaside High School on the coast in Oregon and ran sprints for Gene Gilbertson from 1992-94 and we had a great group at the time. We finished 2nd at state in the 4x100 and 3rd in the 4x400. Getting the baton in the 4x4 to a packed crowd at Hayward Field was an amazing experience! I went on to run for Mt. Hood Community College and Western Oregon University under Coach John Knight. My roommates were all multi-eventers and we had a blast. I learned a lot about competing from those guys.

2) How did you get into coaching and what sports have you coached?
My first coaching experience was in basketball. Our high school had us doing service projects and I volunteered as an assistant coach for my local elementary school’s 5th-grade team. The starting point guard was my little brother, so I had some experience with the people there and was excited to help. I learned a lot about motivating young athletes, and in the final game of the season, the head coach gave it to me to coach. We took on the undefeated team and found a way to win! I was hooked after that!

In college I got the opportunity to teach sprint form and technique and a few different camps and clinics, working with young athletes. That’s when I really started thinking about coaching as something I wanted to do. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but the coaching came on after these experiences.

My first coaching job was at Desert Hot Springs High School in the Palm Springs Unified School District, coaching with my wife. We had a small but fun group and I got the chance to make many mistakes and learned a lot from those amazing kids!

3) During your time as the Great Oak/Herriman cross country and track and field coach, what were some of your highlights and proudest achievements?
We had a lot of success at Great Oak, starting with our 2010 girls' state championship. That really opened the door for all of us to really evolve into a national-level program. Those girls really worked to win that one, and it motivated me as a coach to improve to keep up with the level they were achieving. Our boys started catching up in 2014 and we ended up with 14 Division 1 State Championships at the California State Meet (8 girls and 6 boys)! That makes me tremendously proud because of how many different athletes went into that success. The girls won 7 straight titles (2012-18), while the boys won 6 in a row (2014-2019), which are pretty amazing streaks in their own right, but incredible when you realize how many times they both won in the same year. Obviously, our boy's team winning NXN in 2015 will always be a special moment for me and that program. Beating everyone in the country in any sport is near impossible to do, so I truly remember that as a special group of kids.

For track, I think having the success we did in the distance relays during the regular season, and the individuals during the postseason really stands out for me. Our boys running 16:52 for the 4x1600 and breaking the national record in 2016 was a special moment for me as a coach, as they set the goal and worked incredibly hard to achieve it. On the girl's side, we did some special things. Watching Haley Dorris run 4:44, Destiny Collins run 4:45, and Ashley Helbig 4:48 in 2014 at the Master’s Meet was incredible, being the first team to have 3 under 4:50 in the same race. We did it again in 2018 with Fatima Cortes running 4:46, Tori Gaitan running 4:47, and Arianna Griffiths at 4:49! Too many amazing athletes to list during my time at GO!

My time at Herriman has been short so far, taking over in Track 2022. Our boys won the Timpanogos Invite in Utah last year, Woodbridge in CA, took 2nd at NXR, and 3rd at NXN in my first XC season with the group! We followed that up with some amazing performances in track with Noah Jenkins running 4:05/8:43, Will Horne taking 2nd at nationals in the steeple chase in 5:46, Kadan Allen winning the 800 state title in 1:52, and William Steadman finishing 2nd in the 1600 right behind Danny Simmons! Our boys won the state title in the 4x800 and broke the state record by running 7:39! They also won the Mt. SAC relays DMR at 10:02! Our girl's group is starting to close the gap too, taking 2nd in the girl's 4x1600 at the Mt. SAC Relays this year! Looking forward to a big XC season here in 2023, where our boys have become the deepest team in the nation, and our girls are closing in on the top teams in Utah!

4) What was your incentive to write your book?
Famous writer Martin Dugard really encouraged me to write one to help coaches understand all the different components it takes to build and sustain a championship-level team. I’ve always had a lot of correspondence with other coaches around the country, and many of the questions were the same. What I found was most coaches had a pretty good idea of what they were doing, but they just needed someone to confirm it for them. My hope is that this book can do that for many coaches, and maybe fill in some gaps that anyone has in their program. Mentoring coaches and seeing them dial it in with their teams has always motivated me to share what my program has looked like. When you help coaches, you are really helping the kids they work with and that is why anyone gets into education.

5) What are some of the feedback that you have gotten back from coaches regarding your book?
The feedback has been tremendously positive! I think this is a must-have book for any cross country coach out there because it really forces you to look at your strengths and weaknesses as a coach and as a program and determine where you can improve. The best feedback is from coaches telling me they always had a feeling they were on the right path for this area of coaching or for that but just needed someone to outline it for them. My goal is for the book to be a reference for coaches each summer so that they can keep coming back to try to change little things here and there to get their program to the level they want it to get to. I think the most interesting thing from a writing perspective is how many different people see the value in so many different parts of the book. Much of the feedback is different for each coach, showing the need for a book that confirms what each coach needs to hear and see for their program needs.

6) Where can someone purchase your book?
The only place to pick up a copy is on It is the easiest place to get it out to anyone looking to purchase a copy. Here is the link: Building Championship Cross Country Programs: Soles, Doug: 9798372119963: Books

7) How can someone reach out to you with any questions?
I get lots of amazing emails from coaches all over the country trying to dial in all the different things it takes to be successful in XC and Track. The best way to reach me is via email at and my personal website is

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