Perhaps there was something in the air that made this weekend so special. Yes, the weather was above the normal climes for this time of the year with the high in the low 50s. But that wasn’t it. It was clear the excitement generated came from within the confinements of Oak Park-River Forest High School.
The 50th ITCCCA Clinic doors opened at 7:30 in the morning which included clinic notes, specialty notepads, vendor items, and of course coffee and donuts to registered coaches. However, the time to meet and greet friends and acquaintances prior to the 8:30 clinic start was priceless.
The clinic was divided up into four sessions each last 50 minutes. Clinicians were given a forum to speak and/or teach on a variety of topics such as sprint training, distance training, relays, throws, and team building skills.
Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to rotate and sample many sessions. There were several sessions that stood out to me. The first one was instructor Tony Veney’s class. He traveled from his Ventura, California job to give a passionate presentation on sprint relays. He was able to hold his audience’s attention by providing innovative coaching techniques.
The esteemed Desmond Dunham got his chance to present to an overflowing crowd in a small lecture room. Coach Dunham is back in the high school ranks after coaching at the University of Maryland. It didn’t take long for him to give everyone his blueprint of success. Part of Dunham’s teaching principles come from the Jack Daniel’s training method. He also has developed a system that incorporates speed year-round for middle and long distance athletes.
The honorable Judge Ken Popejoy gave a thrilling keynote speech to the massive crowd in the school’s main auditorium. Judge Popejoy spoke about his humble beginning as an athlete that later parlay into an outstanding running career at Glenbard West HS and Michigan State University. His important message detailed the values that he learned through athletics from his teachers, coaches, and mentors. Mr. Popejoy expressed incredible appreciation of the achievements that he earned up to his adulthood.
The clinic vendors were a delight with the information and product at their booths. I stumbled on one item at the Dick Pond Athletics stand that was very interesting. Vendor Chris Wilhite (left) was showcasing a new product called Cleatskins. It is a protective sleeve for spiked shoes in which athletes can walk around in their spikes without taking them off on sensitive surfaces. How many times have you seen athletes (especially freshman or newcomers) walk from their race inside a school building with their spiked shoes on? Let’s just say this new innovation will ease the mind of host coaches and school administrators worried about kids ruining their precious gym floors.
Finally, I would like to take time to congratulate all of the ITCCCA Coaches award winners, and especially the newly elected ITCCCA Hall of Fame members. Congrats to Gary Coates (Princeton), Jimmy Daniels (Thornton), Dave Grim (Luther North), James Kwasteniet (Chicago Christian), Don Michelin (Evanston), Bob Nihells (Lake Park), and Mike Stokes (Prospect).