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Micah Ward
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 28, 2002 11:16 am    Post subject: More Webb Stuff Reply with quote

There is an article on the coolrunnings website about Alan Webb and his difficulties at Mich. Says that he was doing fine through the x-country season but when he got injured in the winter he withdrew from associating with the team. There is also some insinuations that his high school coach was still very much involved and there was conflict there.

See what you think.
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Conway
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 28, 2002 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haven't read the article but I will ... But sounds interesting ... Especially if there was still influence from the high school coach ... But then as I've said before those are the ties that are hard to break ...
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If that is true about Webb's high school coach that is horrible. At least from a college coaches point of view. All college coaches have had athletes that were very fond of their old high school coaches and sometimes that can be difficult. It can take some work to get an athlete to do things the way you want them done instead of the way they've always done them. Usually once the athlete starts having a little success that goes away. Of coarse the problem is sometimes athletes believe in their old methods so much that they don't feel they can do things any other way and so their failure can be a self-fufilling (sp?) prophecy. I'm not saying that this is the case with Webb but when you've had as much success with one coach as Webb had it would be hard to change. And if the high school coach is "in the athletes ear" about how the things should be done differently it would really make it hard for that athlete to believe in his new coach or to succeed in his system.
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Paul
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Micah, thanks a lot for the article reference. I finally got around to give it a serious read.

I thought the article was quite neutral in tone with no ax to grind, therefore my opinion is that DG's analysis is right on the mark.

I just finished Track and Field The Great Ones by Cordner Nelson. Four of the chapters were on Nurmi, Zatopek, Elliott, and Snell. The athletes long ago, especially in the distance world, seemed to be self-coached. The more modern athletes appear to have a falling out with their coaches some time in their career. Many times those differences are patched up. Sometimes we don't even here about them until the athletes' career is over. I am also reminded of the 1969 novel The Olympian, where one of the central themes is the main character moving around to 3 different coaches before ending up with his original coach before the Olympics at the end of the book. I know that many coaches sport some decent sized egos, but this whole situation with Webb has a different feel to it.

Part of it seems to be imaturity, part an unrealistic sense in what he was capable of at any given time. Both Elliott and Snell would run World Records or close to, and 3 weeks later run 1:50 or 4:03. There is certainly nothing wrong with a 3:59 relay leg or a 3:41 1500m, and it would seem unrealistic to think you were capable of 3:38 with just a few weeks of being healthy.

Didn't Webb sign a $250,000 a year, multiyear contract with Nike?? My opinion is that Nike won't get it's money's worth. Although I would hope to be proved wrong, I don't feel that Webb will be the future of American middle distance running.

Paul
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pnb470 wrote:
I know that many coaches sport some decent sized egos,


Descent sized egos, what are you talking about? Coaches, especially college coaches are the most humble, benevolent and forgiving people on the planet. Wink

pnb470 wrote:
Didn't Webb sign a $250,000 a year, multiyear contract with Nike?? My opinion is that Nike won't get it's money's worth. Although I would hope to be proved wrong, I don't feel that Webb will be the future of American middle distance running.


I think that they got a steal. Sure he may not run any world records in the next two years, but he is the most widely known distance runner in the country. All the young high school kids are out there wanting to be the next Alan Webb. And I'll bet you a nickel that the first shoe that Nike advertises using Webb's name or likeness, sell out faster than tickets to a NSYNC concert.
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Conway
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Humble coaches ??? On a planet other than Earth perhaps ... Especially now a days ... As athletes have huge egos any more ...

As far as Webb and Nike I'm not sure how Nike plans to use him ... He HAD name recognition ... And still does fora minute ... But if he doesn't do something "great" soon his high school exploits will wear off/thin .. Although the fact that recreational running is big in the US should help with sales for a while .. But they won't get any interanational play out of him .. Most other athletes that have large contracts are huge draws outside of the US (as track is big sport and big business outside the US) .. But we will see how that goes ... I tend to lean towards Paul's initial statement though ...

As for coaches .. IIII believe big time in the club system, peimarily because an athlete is able to grow and mature under a coach ... Changing horses in the middle of a stream can be very difficult as the athletes Paul mentioned (That a good book by the way) all found out .. As opposed to our collegiate system I would much prefer to see more clubs and then regionalized coaching centers as I have described before ... Then those coaches could be more like consultants working with the elite towards fine tuning type of development ...

Conway
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Paul
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't disagree with your assessment, DG, and Nike does have a good track record of getting their worth out of people. Conway's suggestions are valid because Webb could easily become "yesterday's news". Nike could make enough money in the first year alone to warrant the contract. If Nike uses Webb in interview situations, I think they will quickly disintegrate into "you had such a great future, what happened?" Let's compare to Ritz. Team oriented, potential individual greatness in 5K or longer, congenial, adaptive.

Conway, pop quiz!! Who teaches economics at George Mason Univ and was Dean of the Department for a year, two years ago, and has a nationally syndicated column???

Paul
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2002 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Conway wrote:
Humble coaches ??? On a planet other than Earth perhaps ... Especially now a days ... As athletes have huge egos any more ...


Of coarse having a bit of an ego is almost a prerequisit for coaching anything. After all, you spend all day telling athletes we're going to do things my way, because it is the best way. And with distance runners who are all coaches for themselves during the off season anyway a coach has to be able to project an aura of "I know how to make you better" and that pretty much equals having an ego.

Now where to draw the line is really a matter of taste. And many of the coaches out there are quite humble, at least in interviews and the like. "I have to give all the credit to the athletes, they worked their tails off to achieve this" or "I just feel blessed to work with such talented and hard working kids." These are some of the classic coaching cliches, I hope I get to use them often this year.
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Micah Ward
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2002 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I know the answer to the pop quiz but I will wait on Conway. If it is who I am thinking about he is a brilliant guy and I have enjoyed reading his columns and listening to him on the radio.

DG, if you don't mind letting us know where you coach you would have a real fan club cheering you on this year! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2002 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I might as well spill the beans. I coach at the Universtiy of Nebraska at Kearney. We're just a little D2 school, competeing against the giants of the distance world, Adams State and Western State.

In cross country, we had a rough year last year on the men's side but we've reloaded and should be pretty good this season. On the women's side we were very young last year but, we were still 4th in the conference behind three really good squads. And I have my entire womens team returning. I'm optomistic about the up coming season but, at this time of year so is everyone else.
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Paul
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2002 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am glad to hear you still have men's and women's teams in Track and Cross Country. Very Happy What kind of instructions do you give your runners for the summer?? Or, in this day and age, I should ask in what direction do you attempt to persuade them!! Surprised Confused

Paul
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2002 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I give pretty strict instructions to my athletes on what they need to be doing over the summer. In other words I tell them the truth, if you want to be a descent college level runner in during cross country your weekly mileage needs to be 50ish to start the summer building to 70ish (girls high 20's to high 40's) by the end. If you want to make a run at being All-American you need to start the summer in the 70's and end it in the 90's (girls mid 50's to 70's or more). If you don't do those things then having those goals is setting yourself up for failure. As my best returning male runner put it "We race from August to November, but our real season is from May until August".

So I guess it's equal parts demand and persuasion, do the work and you can be good, don't and you won't. The people that don't generally weed themselves out.
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Micah Ward
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2002 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like I will be a Nebraska-Kearney fan this fall. Very Happy Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2002 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bet you'll be the only Loper (that's short for Antelopes) fan in the state of Georgia too boot! Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2002 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No offence to DG or anyone else who is a coach, but as with many of the discussions on this site aren't we giving coaches too much credit. Now I don't doubt that Webb has been in a fragil state for the last 6-8 months but blaming it all on his HS coach is a bit much. Don't you all believe that his family played a large part in helping make his decision.

And about athletes having trouble adapting to new coaches. It probably is a big factor in some athletes running slower in college or not getting faster but they must have been weak (mentally) anyway. People everyday have to adapt to new situations with new management. Those people who are strong adapt and the weak quit.
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