Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The possibilities of the thing...

A couple of months ago I wrote a fantastic blog, it was filled with heart and soul, and love and despair, anger and emotion.  I just deleted it because it was a tragedy, and filled with sadness that needed no life.  So, I wrote it all, got that out, vented, and deleted it because time heals all wounds and brings great wisdom.  I was driving yesterday and thinking about what I wanted to write, and what I wanted to share.  Here is the resulting epiphany.  Periodically, I will write about a different athlete I have coached or helped coach over my 20 plus years.  I will not use names, you can guess who they are, who they are will be obvious to those that were there.  I think, well, it should be obvious LOL.  Some I will make obvious.  These will nt be mudracking stories, or petty shots, these will be fond memories from me of me.
World and Olympic medalists, or just plain old athletes.  No order, no preference, no hierarchy, but I will try to hit as many as I can for as long as I can.  If I cannot write something inspired, I will wait until I can.  So, let me think, who shall be first? 
Some time before today this athlete came into the group.  How is that for secretive LOL.  Right off the top I want to thank this athlete for trusting me to always take me on the road.  I went a lot of places and spent a lot of time in foreign countries because this athlete wanted me there.  The best of these trips involved a funny moment that only can happen in real life.  
It was a long trip, like 2 or 3 weeks.  We started in Stockholm.  First race up was going to be a tough one because the competition was not there for the games.  I will not bore you with warm up stories, nor descriptions of races.  You can pull up results and videos for all of that stuff.  Well, at least not in this story, not this time.  On this trip, it was all about dusting of the rust, getting a good run in before the next meet, which is where we planned to lay it down and run fast.  This meet was about winning.
Win he did.  The race was as tough as advertised.  Like I said, the opposition was not there to play around.  We were victorious, race was over, on to the next one.  Right after recovery.  The first race is always taxing off the plane, no matter how much time you plan ahead.  
All of a sudden, there was urgency.  In the midst of recovering, a mad search was on!  What was the urgency?  Simple, a lost earring.  LMAO  It seems so frivolous, right?  Well, let's just say it was worth searching for the earring.  If any of the personnel there found that earring they would have been very happy.  So the search was on.  We walked the track, every meter of the race.  No, earring, which was alarming but there was little chance we would find it.  As we reached the finish line, it looked as if someone had found rent that evening, and walked off.
As we crossed the finish line, quickly approaching the inevitable conclusion that the earring was gone, it dawned on me to look outside of the lane because what you do not know, is the race ended dramatically.  Dramatic as in, a full front flip.  I told you the race was going to be hard, it went down to the wire, it was won on a lean.  The lean resulted in a front flip.  Thus, the missing earring.  So, I looked around where the flip occurred and voila!  Laying on the white line was the earring.  All the carats intact.  Someone missed out on rent LOL

This is a sample of stories I will tell.  Things I recall from my travels.  The athletes around then should recall who this is.  That earring was a big deal at the time, now not so much.  With these new millionaires buying carats like carrots, Aqib Talib would have paid it no mind LOL.  Now let me go think on who else I can write about, and what obscure tale I can tell.  Enjoy your holidays, If you are ever in Pomona, stop by and see me.  Peace, D

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Happy New Year!  It is really true, the older you get the faster time flies.  Just seems like yesterday it was one of those years gone by, fill in any year ya like.  Yet, here we are, in 2014.  So I figured I should post at least once this year lol.
Let me start by acknowledging the great points of this season.  Ryan Wilson is the US champ, and world silver medallist.  As of this week it is official, he is also the number 2 ranked hurdler in the world.  Props to D.O. on his world title and his number one ranking.  He earned it.  And in true competition, we are coming for both next year, 2015. 
Needless to say, I am over the moon about Ryan's year.  He has been with me for ten years, without fail and I with him.  This season was a fun ride, one of those years you wait to have with your athlete.  And one I will cherish.  I have been blessed to have a few athletes succeed under me that is personal, not just professional.  It is my style, my preference, and when success is achieved extra gratifying.  Medals are precious, rare, and the symbol of a lot of hard work, determination and luck.
That being said, it is time track and field had a World Championship every year.  For decades detractors of this idea have cried that it is too hard.  Well that is the same thing WE all said when they changed them to every two years.  Having coached a few commonwealth and European athletes, this is true, yet inconsequential.  It makes no sense that 90% of the world have some form of championship this summer, but the sport as a whole feels the need to take a year off. 
The financial impact is dire for the athletes and in some respects for us coaches too.  Races become rare, and the opportunity for progress is placed on hold or stunted all together.  Having a down year in the Western hemisphere is marketing purgatory.  How to you sell your medallist this year?  What?  They have a chance at the Diamond League title?  I do not think so.  You cannot guarantee anyone's participation in a given meet, so that does not work.  Having a global championship does not guarantee participation, but it gives the athletes and the public a focal point.  It provides the networks with a clean storyline.  They will not need a segment devoted to the explanation of a league that only counts certain events week to week, but may have the non scoring events in their meets for entertainment purposes.  Fans like a simple storyline to follow, protagonist and antagonist they can love and hate.  Here we are removing ourselves from the conversation, voluntarily.
We must stay in the public eye if we wish to "return" to a profile position on the sporting landscape.  Hell, I cannot keep up with how many X Games there are a year anymore.  Happy New year everybody.  I plan to continue to have fun at this thing.  See you all out there. D

Monday, July 1, 2013

"...Ten years of hard work is starting to pay off!"

Never let them know what you are thinking!  That is one of the classic Godfather lines, many like to quote.  Welp, I am about to tell you exactly what I think.  One week ago, after ten long, hard years of consistency Ryan finally made the US team!  Not only did he make the team, he won the damn race!  Ryan Wilson is the 2013 USA champion in the 110HH.

It is an understatement to say he won the hardest race, on the world's greatest team.  Yearly, the highs are the deepest event in the US.  In 2012, Ryan ran 13.26 to take 7th at the Olympic trials!  7th!!! In 99% of the world that is a national record.  So the absolute joy, I felt when he crossed the line I hope was understandable to those who witnessed my exuberance.  Yup, I yelled, and ran around like a fool, and I did not care.  I shed a tear too.  I admit it.  Everyone that knows me, knew exactly how much that meant to me. 
What I did not expect was how many people outside of my circle knew. 

Ryan is well liked on the circuit, and after he won that race I got to see how much people liked him.  There was genuine happiness from all corners as we walked off the track.  Not that I expected any hate, I was just pleasantly surprised at how many knew his story.  HIS story, his ten year climb.

Ten years.  In that time, we have remained a fixture on the US scene.  Always faltering in championship years.  Ryan was my first recruit.  He called me from the track when he won NCAAs in 03.  I was shocked.  I was pleased.  I had to act like I wasn't smiling ear to ear.  2 days later he would commit to what is now a ten year journey.  Here is a brief outline of our adventures trying to make the USA team: 2003 - strains groin in the first round. 2004 - He spent that entire season finishing school, went to trials half prepared but a USC graduate.  Which was our goal that season. 2005 - hamstring strain that just would not go away.  2006 - No team, runs 13.22 to finish 3rd at nationals.  Oh man were we ready for the show!  2007 - "Sweats off!" Both groins cramp! He bails at hurdle 2.  He ran 13.02 in NY that year.  Had a good summer, finished the season ranked in the top 10 in the world, and no team. 2008 - Injury.  What would turn out to be a sports hernia. 2009 - David Payne jumps, Ryan gets blamed, runs under protest, so we can file a protest.  We won the protest but because he ran, his result had to be taken into consideration which means he was better off not running. Another team goes by.  2010 - great year!  Finished 4th in the world.  Took second at nationals.  Only problem, no team to make.  but again, we are ready for 2011! 2011 - comes and everything is pear shaped.  All.  Year.  Long!  Following a disastrous nationals we made the switch to seven steps.  Took him one whole set, on the road to switch.  But it gave us a chance to work on it under fire with no pressure. 2012 - the Olympics.  We are seven stepping easily, and ready to make the team.  At hurdle 5 he is in 2nd, clip 6, smash 7, stumble, cuss across the finish line and in the end, get ranked 8th in the world, with no team again! 2013 - Deal done. Win it, leave no doubt. Finally make a team, on to Moscow.

Now of course I skipped a million tales, but you get the point.  We had a point to prove.  Losing to hurdlers he had beaten, watching races he could win. Wondering what in the hell was I screwing up?  Brought me to the exhibition in the stands :)  I celebrated for 3 days, internally.  Now it is time to get ready for Moscow.  The hard part was making the team, now it is time for the fun part, getting on that podium.  See you guys in Moscow!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Synching up

It is time to get a new laptop!  I have been remiss in blogging because quite frankly I no longer enjoy being on the trusty laptop.  I loved this thing for years, and it has finally dawned on me that the frequent freezes, inability to view videos without causing those freezes, and fear of opening more than one application means old betsy has grown, well, old.
Anyway, let's get all synched up.  It is track season.  Now part of me wants to play track blogger and be all detailed, and deep about things track.  BUT see I have a mild form of ADD, I know I will get going and get bored and just stop, so what I will do is update you on me and my group, Threshold Athletics Group, TAG for short, is alive!  Skipping the time line restraints, I have 3 Italian ladies, Giulia Latini, Giulia Arcioni, and returning Martina Giovanetti.  Those names are pronounced "Julia" and yes they both have the same name.  They are hard workers, and three very different personalities.  This is the earliest any of them have competed, and despite my internal goals, we are doing just fine.  I still want more for them, and we work accordingly.  My elder statesman, Ryan Wilson is world ranked again, 8th, and recently won Mt SAC, which is always a good omen for his season.  A surprise addition to the team, has been the interlopers from Qatar.  I swear God is good.  When they say it is who you know, they were not lying!  My ADD has kicked in, what else do I want to discuss...
From the headlines, what is this fascination with outting gay football players?  I find it very interesting that people are so free with other people's privacy!  Who said all those men, whoever they are, are hiding?  Anyone ever consider they may want to avoid the scrutiny and keep their private lives, you know, PRIVATE!  All this socio-political talk has us ignoring folks rights.  Now the paparazzi, are running around chasing guys and posting pictures.  People screaming for them to come out, and calling the league homophobic.  Talk about crossing up subject matters.  I am not arguing about gay marriage, nor whether or not the league is homophobic, I am saying, if someone wants to come out and tell you who they are sleeping with, that is THEIR business, and it is also THEIR business to not want to tell you.
Boston Marathon bombers deserve to die.  One brother down, one brother to go.  DO I really need to go into the why's of it all?  They picked probably one of the most apolitical settings you can, a sporting event, hell a marathon!  Marathon's are international sporting events.  And in the end killed 3 innocent people, including an 8 year old.  8!  My son is 8.  I coach track, it is very easy for me to imagine him being at an event with me and this happening because of these clowns. I am glad they caught the youngest, he will be prosecuted, that is a good thing.
I am sure there is a thousand other things I can comment on, but I do need to blog more than once a year.  So I will save it.  Think on it.  And say something about it.  Maybe I will tell a story.... OH before I go, I am on the UCLA coaching staff.  Please send me all young high hurdlers, please and thank you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TAG team down under

Happy Valentine's Day to all the ladies.  I hope the special man in your life has shown his appreciation, as I did to my honey today.
I am sitting down here in Perth, Australia, taking the talents of TAG international.  John Steffensen (400m) has his trials coming up on March 3rd, and as a part of his London 2012 campaign I agreed to come down here and prep him for 6 weeks.  It has been like a boxing training camp.  He and I down here in an apt, he on a futon and me on an air mattress.  We eat, train and sleep.  And all has gone well.  He ran his first race this past weekend here in Perth and won in grand fashion. John Steffensen wins Perth Track Classic.  We are off to Sydney tomorrow to run race number 2 and chase this A standard for the Games.  The journey is merely beginning but it is good to see him healthy and competing again.
TAG team member and resident rookie, Nia Ali competed in the 100H.  You talk about nervous!  Winning was never a thought, health was my main concern, and she came through better than before she ran.  THIS!  Coach is well chuffed LOL.  Such an early run, I will take the result, and it gave me a chance to see her under fire.  She can compete and that is a great starting point.  Her future is bright.
I think the last time I blogged I reminisced about the good old days.  Hanging here with John has me remembering tons of stories, and like I said, they are still fun and happy times.  Someone said I should write a book about it all, LOL, problem is I am not sure my memory is as good as some think LOL.  That book would be about 50 pages long, thats more like a pamphlet HAHAHAHA! I do have one bittersweet memory...2000 was my first Olympic Games.  I came to Sydney with my Saudi team. Hamdan al Bishi was a young rising quarter miler who would win World Juniors a month later, and Hadi Souan al Somayli was our secret weapon.  He had been steadily improving over the summer, and no one took notice.
His last workout before the Games was 3x the first 3 hurdles.  He was flying, and as we walked back to our bus, I said to him "That was great, how are you feeling?" With his nose in the air, and standing at his full height, he replied, "Now I am ready."  And he was ready!  He rolled into the finals as the fastest qualifier, the top American was Angelo Taylor but he had faltered in the semi and drew lane 1.  He was my main concern, while the rest of the field was formidable, but Angelo was the threat and I will not lie, I was happy he was in 1.  Long tale short, coming off of hurdle 10 Hadi and Angelo are running step for step to the line, Hadi had a slight lead but Angelo, the young 21 year old was selling out and refused to let it go.
I am screaming at Hadi to LEAN!  Instead he dipped, while Angelo LEANED! New Saudi record, first SAudi Olympic medal in history secured, smiles all around, cheers throughout the team.  I looked at Hadi from our front row seats, he looked at me, and all I could do was shrug, half ass smile and hold in my tears.  47.50 - 47.53.  We had lost and I could feel the disappointment rising as all around me erupted in celebration.  Training partners called down to me to say good job, and one saw the pain on my face.  I went to the bathroom and slapped myself and grunted, and came out with a smile.  Damn I wanted that gold, but we had won silver and run fast.  It was a fantastic moment.  Albeit bittersweet.
The tales of track are littered with such stories...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

With age comes wisdom

"Age ain't nothing but a number!"  One thing age teaches you is that this is a cliche of young people hoping to get old enough to become wise enough to realize this is untrue, and the other thing age teaches you is that this quote is just a catchy Aliyah song LOL.  Never has this been truer in my life than this birthday week of mine.
I had a great birthday.  The week started with the USATF Coaches summit where I have been going for almost 20 years to acquire the science that enables me to be a better coach to my athletes.  It ended with watching 2 friends be inducted in the UCLA Hall of Fame.  Life is blessed.
Now I had 3 critical conversations this week, that I never planned on having, 2 of which I had long ago written off as to NEVER having.  Things happen in life, and as I stated in my previous post, we grow apart from some people in our lives.  A few of these people I had banished to the no-not-never zone.  Like I said with age comes wisdom.  The fantastic reminder was God will reach out to you from places you least expect it.  Boy if that wasn't ever true. HA!
SO the first convo I had came from left field but it was directly related to the 2nd convo, which is the only one I figured I would be having, I just did not realize it would be this week.  See I had been dreading this conversation, simply because I had no idea how to have to talk.  I was too angry, too hurt, and wanted my pound of flesh, as it were.  So I waited.  I waited until the time came to me where I could have the conversation in a construction or non destructive way.  It took roughly 2 years. 
Now the wisdom is in the message from the 1st convo that allowed me to have the 2nd convo.  I will use another cliche, I was cutting off my nose to spite my face.  Or throwing the baby out with the bath water.  I was allowing my frustration to fester into petulance and I was called on it in a direct but useful way.  I will share the key point of the convo because wisdom has taught me that somethings are meant to given away.  The question was simple, would you give up 5% to better your 95%?  BAM!  A light went off in my head.  Just like that 2 years of "How?" was solved.  In the moment I was overvaluing my 5% at the expense of bettering my 95%.  Everything else in the conversation followed that theme and I was instantly happier and could not wait to have the 2nd convo.  I had it the first chance I got, and it was finally done.  I am truly focused on my 95% which allowed for me to receive the 3rd convo.
The 3rd convo would have NEVER happened prior to these previous convos.  And both of us knew it.  But it did, and I received a wonderful message on a fantastic night.  Yes my friend, people grow apart but that does not diminish what was for me in any way.  I traveled this earth and saw some fantastic things.  I got better as a coach, and learned nuggets of info along the way.  Those memories are never far from me.
I am amazed at how my previous blog about the HSI days struck some people.  I was just recounting what I always assumed were general memories, boy I was mistaken.  Wisdom!  People do not remember, retain, nor cherish what you cherish.  Share those memories and you may bring some sunshine to an acquaintances day without you ever realizing it.
Alright, I am off to finish my birthday week, it is ending with a smile, and an opportunity.  Man this life thing is great.  I wonder what I will write about next?  Hmmm, maybe about the NOW instead of the past, yeah maybe...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blog about my last blog

How interesting, my last blog was linked by Track and Field News, which was cool because it was unexpected.  I have written other things I wish were linked, oh wait I never posted those LOL.
A few people have written me saying how they enjoyed the stories.  I am glad I have them to share.  Maybe someday I will write a book, or a series of stories about my adventures in Track and Field.  In the meantime, i will continue on my varied blog.  Talking and posting and ranting and observing.  For example...

What a tremendous end to the season.  The Diamond League ended with a bang.  I enjoyed the meet a lot.  BUT the negative is the powers that be will walk away believing their league is a success.  It is not.  It is a decent blueprint but needs some fine tuning to say the least.  What I would appreciate the most is a circuit and some rules that are more athlete and fan friendly. 
While we all understand what pays the bills, television, it is unhealthy and destructive to make rules that are and events that seem more geared towards TV, than the betterment of the product.  I know, I know, don't say too much or rock the boat.  Welp, since I am going to ride in this boat I will comment on the boat.  I am willing to offer up some elbow grease.
What catches my attention the most is the strictness of the rules that govern the sprints over most other events.  And for the life of me I do not understand the logic in it.  We all know the show events, 1500, 100, shot put.  Yes, mostly an American construct but from what I have seen it is a lot more universal than many care to admit.  As of late, the straight away events have carried the sport in the entertainment realm.  So why the draconian rule making?  Why almost ensure losing star power, as we saw in Daegu?  A completely avoidable occurrence, that most see as just a consequence of the sport.  Far from it folks, it was a consequence of a bad rule change that served no real purpose other than to hold sprinters responsible for lost TV time.
I have summarized a complicated issue for a purpose.  To show the general interpretation of the "business" rule changes.  While I am positive TV had a serious issue with the false start delays, I am equally as sure the No False Start rule was overkill.  Money is on the line, this is not comparable to a state championship nor a collegiate championship.  Usain Bolt lost 60k to that false start.  Some think he was trying to cheat, others think he was scared of Blake, I think he was just a sprinter trying to get the perfect start and perfect race, in his quest to make history, AGAIN.  I could prattle on for a few more paragraphs, but I will save that for a separate blog. 
Ok now I am ready for the season to start again.  I may even muster up some excitement about indoors.  NAW! lol