Keeping Track

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Keeping Track

Written by Ron O'Donnell on 04 March 2019.

Long before the season begins, coaches set goals for their teams and athletes. Two important parts of the individual collaboration are: 1) Are the goals realistic? 2) Is the athlete willing to do what is necessary to attain them?

Aside from the plan for the team and its members, the following is a checklist of ideas that could enhance a track or cross-country program. Coaches should never stop striving for improvement. If we do, it may be a sign to move on to other endeavors.

-Attend a clinic, such as the one sponsored by the OATCCC, in January.

-Take a reporter to lunch.

-Plan to run the mile (not the 1500 or 1600) in a home meet.

-Attend athletic booster club meetings, even when not asking for financial support.

-Attend a school board meeting and introduce yourself to the administrators and school board members. Thank them for their support.

-Host a dual meet allowing unlimited entries. Separate genders by competing on two different days.

-Encourage elementary physical education teachers to include a unit of track and field and cross-country in their curriculum.

-Send a newsletter to parents on a regular basis, reviewing results and letting them know about upcoming events.

-Award bonus letter points to those who read a book about running.

-Conduct a team night with snacks and a guest motivational speaker.

-Work to become a better coach each day. Implementing the previous ideas will help accomplish this.

We coach the greatest sport in the world. Let’s respect it and tirelessly work to make it even better.


Speaking of tireless work – Thank you is not an adequate way to express appreciation to Terry Oertman for the incredible job that he did as director of this year’s OHSAA State Cross Country Championships. Without his leadership and passion, the cross-country championship would not have happened.  Individuals like Terry are invaluable to our sport. He is the MVP for 2018 – he is simply the best.


Congratulations to five coaches who led their teams to 2018 State Cross-Country Championships. These men all ran on teams that I was very fortunate to coach: Jerry Castro (Kent State), North Lincoln High School, North Carolina 2A champions; Jerry Dotson (Marshall University), Cary High School, North Carolina 4A champions; Jeff Howard (Kent State), Woodridge High School, Ohio Division 2 champions; Mark McConnell (Hudson), Hudson High School, Ohio Division 1 champions; Chris Parsons (Marshall), West Virginia AAA champions. I am so proud of them and what they do for the sport that we love.

Yours in track,

Rod O’Donnell

Read more of Rod O'Donnell's Keeping Track articles on -

Let Your Mind Run, A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory -


Life Lessons from Cross Country -

 Bring Back the Mile -   

Preparing for the upcoming Track Season -

KEEPING TRACK - Team State Championship -

Keeping Track -  CROSS COUNTRY -

Keeping Track - Number 7 -

Attending a Running Camp -

Can we do anything else to alienate sports fans -

Keeping Track - National Governing Body for High School Sports (NFHS)  -

 Keeping Track - Cross Country -

Keeping Track - Frank Shorter -

KEEPING TRACK, Two Iconic Coaches-

KEEPING TRACK -  Caldwell Story -

KEEPING TRACK - Furman Elite Training Group -

Keeping Track - 2 Divisions for 120 Lacrosse teams?

Boy's Division II and Division III -

Boy's Division I -;utm_campaign=july+2015+news&utm_medium=email


KEEPING TRACK - Football and Track Athletes -

 The Ohio High School Athletic Association State Cross-Country Championships -

Cross Country -

 Track Faces Challenges that could have adverse effects thus causing severe damage -

Marketing Track & Field -

Student Athlete’s Questions -

The Need to Speak Up -

A new book by John McDonnell -

KEEPING TRACK - From September-October 2013 print RUNOHIO -

Random Thoughts -

Another Division I institution has dropped its men’s track program -

 Ohio University Athletic Department's Worst Decision -

Ten Pledges for Cross Country Coaches -

London Olympics -

 Improving as a Coach –

You Only Go Around Once -

Dear Jesse Owens –

West Virginia State Cross Country Championship –

SPIRE Institute -

Why is the OHSAA Treating Cross Country Different than All of the Other Sponsored Sports?

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