Thursday, September 29, 2011

How I came to this Threshold

The world is full of misinformation and wonderful lies.  I will write this in part PC prose and straight talk.  If you are a child there may be cussin' in the next few paragraphs, you have been warned.
The reasons for me writing this particular blog are varied and span many years, so this blog shall cover many years.  I will enjoy reliving some of this, as i excise some demons and tell the wonderful tale of how i came to be a coach in this hellish realm of track and field...
in short, I was born a coach of track.  well i was born in to the sport, that is for sure.  I have known about track for as long as I can remember.  All over my parents house and my grandparents house were pictures and trophies of my uncle and his success as an athlete.  I remember loving the clipping from JET magazine.  My uncle was in JET! lol  I loved the trophies, they were amazing, i particularly loved the huge marble stones that sat in front of the fireplace.  Those damn things were heavy!  Then there was the laminated picture of him setting the wr in the 440 yd dash.  Not to mention the clay statue in the garage that now sits in a museum somewhere.  Yup, track is in my blood.
The funny thing is I was more taken by the UCLA on his chest than the sport itself.  The sport came along later.  I am anti baseball so after a year of tee ball, and having been struck out on a called strike that the umpire never saw, I told my parents I wanted to try track.  I was 6.  My original trophy is still around here somewhere.  The beauty of this decision was my natural speed. I was the fastest boy in my neighborhood.  Notice I said boy, there was this one girl everyone avoided racing.  Including me. lol  I raced this other kid early on, he was tall and lanky, and fast.  His name was Steve Lewis.
by age ten I was a long jumper.  Sprinting passed me by after the first round of puberty.  All my friends that i used to destroy mysteriously got faster, all at once, and BAM the long jump took prime position in my personal hierarchy.  Oh I was good at it.  This was the point Coach Harris started telling us about hurdles.  Fantastic!  Now, in my early years of hurdling I raced this other tall kid, he was muscular and looked grown.  We wanted to see his birth certificate because there was no way he was my age.  his name was Quincy Watts.
Going into high school I had made the decision to hurdle.  I won the "C" level City championship in the 300IH.  Oh boy I was well on my way to being the man to break Edwin Moses win streak!  Until my junior year, then senior year disappointments and I was well on my way to walking on at UCLA.  To be coached by none other than my uncle.  Heaven!
Life dominated track and by 1991 I had run my last race.  Now this is where I start my journey.  Christmas 1991 my uncle asked me to come back out to the track as a manager and his assistant to his soon to be pro team.  Well, hell yes!  Off we went.  The dream was sold, we would take over the world, and as success came to the group our collective fortunes would rise, collectively.  The group was Kevin Young, a young Quincy Watts (still at USC), and Andre Cason.  Many of my teammates dreamed of matriculating to the pro group after their senior years. After the 92 season Nike LA welcomed its first official member, Jon Drummond and Jason Rouser.  My boys.  I spent more time with these 2 scoundrels than my family.  JD would make the world team in 1993 as the lead off of the 4x1 that tied the wr, the still standing AR (37.40).  Fantastic.  We are on our way.
By this time I have been to conference champs and NCAA champs.  The future was bright.  I was having a ball.  Life was hard but that was ok, I was in love, track had me.
1994 saw Dennis come to the group and become the number one sprinter in the world.  He dipped under 10 six times that season, a record at the time.  JD dipped four times, the second most in a season.  On the UCLA front Ato was busy committing.  In 1995 he won the 200 after jumping out of the 100.  In 1996, Ato set the UCLA record in the 100 and 200, JD made the Olympic team, Marie Perec had come to town and would be the second woman to win the 200/400 double.  Oops I have to go back.
Following 1992 circumstances dictated that John seek representation, and thus the ground work for HSI was laid.  John meet Emanuel.
Ok, so as I was saying, in 1996 HSI was dominating the scene, and would officially announce our presence with the signing of Ato.  Hello world, the dream is alive and real.  JD, Ato, Marie Perec and Antwon Maybank all headed to Atlanta, HSI!  The takeover had begun.  I watched on TV as the troops performed with Ato winning 2 medals and looking like the next great thing.  Marie shocked herself and pulled off the 200 gold.  Lovely woman but the faces she made to win that 200 gold were downright scary lol.
That fall saw the arrival of Mo, the next great thing.  Now it did not start that way, he was struggling with all things LA; the training, the living, the INCOME, but he was listening.  He was always confident.  Quincy had returned to the fold and he and Mo were fast friends.  I recall the moment Mo acknowledged he had it figured out.  Most people think it was when he won nationals that year but it was before that in a race no one except us paid attention to.  It was Prefontaine, and Mo was in Lane 8 of the 200!  I believe he ran the 100 and got his hat handed to him.  As he tells the story he was filling out job applications by this point in the season.  Anyway, in this 200 he was torched by Allen Johnson on the bend and a couple of other sprinters on his inside.  Coming down the home stretch he ran back by Allen and finished 4th.  I think he ran 20.42 or something like that.  He came to the back and proclaimed "I got it!"  Half way down that straight away, the movement clicked for him.  He felt it.  The next time he would see a track would be at US Nationals.
This was his second proclamation of discovery lol.  He ran 9.96 in the 1st round and John and I looked at each other and shrugged.  Rookie went out too hard, we will see what he has for the other rounds.  When we got to him in the cool down, John asked him how he felt, and he replied, "I can do that whenever I want to.  Sub 10 is easy"  Oh boy, what a rookie.  Well the rest is history.  He was right.  LOL
By 2000, Ato, Mo and JD were the triplets.  Dominating the sprint scene on all fronts, JD was the personality, Mo the confidence, and Ato the workman.  The dream was in full bloom and HSI was on top of the world, literally.  We flew flags at circuit meets, folks didn't like that, the IAAF passed rules to prevent it.  True story.  In 1999, I had the task of coaching the crew through the single greatest day in HSI history.  Athens Greece was the place, and we showed out.  Mo set the wr that day, 9.79.  Ato took second in 9.86, his third such clocking (he would post a fourth such clocking in the next meet in Lausanne).  Jeff Hartwig won the PV, I believe he went over 6m that day.  Inger had joined the crew, the queen doubled that day, taking 2nd in the 100 (11.04) and winning the 200 in a then pr (22.10).  Mo and Ato would follow up her double with their own double, Ato dropping 19.88 to win and Mo running a gutsy 20.02 to back up his emotionally draining wr.  In between all of that Larry won the 110s in 13.12 in a photo finish.  All victories were meet records at the time.  We called John to tell him the good news, he was coaching UCLA at a home meet that day, June 16th, 1999.  Yup I remember the day.
Over the next 4 years HSI would see more success, Olympic and world titles, more medals, and the inevitable growth and maturing of the athletes.  The ebb and flow of life was treacherous at times, as is the case with any family and its moving parts.  Some of us grew a part, but we are all enjoying success in various corners of track.  Ato is a respected TV analyst, was a senator in his homeland of Trinidad.  He has developed into the public guru for track fans world wide, doing all broadcast in the US and now venturing into web casting.  Mo is still the personality.  His charisma, and on track accomplishments keep him busy travelling, speaking and doing clinics.  He has tried his hand at coaching also, leading a local high school here in the LA area and also coaching Miki Barber onto the 2011 World Team.  JD is a trainer and coach in Texas, placing many kids into top high schools and college programs, while consulting (his word lol) a few world class level sprinters, AND COACHING Marshevet Myers.  Larry Wade is the HC at Pasadena City College, Kaaron was the sprint coach for the Korean national team and is now John's right hand man, Antwon Maybank is in the midwest coaching, Jason Rouser is in Florida coaching and doing personal training.  Gentry Bradley is now the sprint coach for the Saudi Arabian National team.  and then there is me!
Hi folks.  I have seen the earth traveling with my boys and my uncle over the years.  I have touched every continent except for the artic regions.  For a number of years I had the privilege of coaching the Saudi Arabian sprinters and hurdlers. In 2000 I made my first Olympic trip, guiding Hadi Somayli and Hamdan al Bishi to Sydney.  Hadi would win Saudi's first ever Olympic medal, taking silver in the 400H, in a heart breaking finish.  Still hurts to relive it, smh.  Hamdan would pr at the Games but would enjoy his glory a month later at the World Juniors where he set the still standing meet record (44.66).  Over the next 4 years I would guide my boys to numerous regional championships and records and awards.  In 2003 I started my own group, DSports, this venture culminated in the bronze medal in 2008.  Tasha would rise from the ashes to win bronze in Beijing, I the single proudest achievement of my career to date.  DSports is now Threshold Athletics Group TAG for short.  The many years of experience with my uncle have groomed me well for this next adventure.  It was a thrill and far more fun and involved than many realize.  I am forever grateful to my uncle for allowing me to grow under him and trusting me enough to guide the group when he was unable to be there.  Can you imagine having the hopes and dreams of your friends in your care?  That was me.  At the ripe old age of 28.  Now I am 40, a ton of lessons learned.  not all rosy, but lessons just the same.  The HSI days are long past, but the impact and influence remain.  Those times, adventures, trials, tests, and successes helped shape me.  I was born a coach, I will die a coach, but I do miss the friendships of yesterday.
I will say to all my guys, no matter where we stand today, I am proud of you all.  Success breeds success, and we were damn good then and we are all damn good now.  Keep striving to be the best, I damn sure will.  See you all on the track.

Oh, I skipped over years and more than a few stories, this damn entry was long enough. LOL

OH, OH, yeah the voice of this blog changed because like I said I enjoyed reliving it, so some of the demons were excised, and the energy changed.  I will leave you all with this, Exodus 14:14