RICHMOND, Va. – It doesn't matter that the temperature outside keeps dropping, the VCU track & field squads are ready to try and offset the cold by burning up the track, starting with the indoor season opener this weekend at Christopher Newport.
Head Coach Jon Riley is in his first year as the supervisor of both the men's and women's program and before he led his squads down the road for the opener, he sat down with VCU Athletic Communications Graduate Assistant Matt Ensor to share a little bit of perspective heading into the weekend.
ME: This season will be your first coaching both the men's and women's teams. How is this a different challenge for you as a coach compared to coaching just one team before?
JR: It's feels like I'm starting all over again. The men are trying to adapt to my coaching style and my type of structure, so it is a bit of a challenge for them, but I'm going to push them and mole them into a championship caliber team. I'm stressing to them that change occur naturally over time.
ME: As a coach, what are some of the key things you look for in an early-season meet?
JR: Early on, I want them to perfect simple skills and progress to skills that are more specific to their event. The workouts are general with lots of volume and my goal is to help them improve their overall athletic ability.
ME: What are some of your expectations of freshmen and newcomers in their first collegiate meet or their first meet as a member of VCU Track & Field?
JR: I want them to learn how to warm up properly prior to their event and understand the college system. I am looking at this first meet as a practice because we have yet to do any specific training. I want them to do the little things that we have been stressing at practice from day 1.
ME: Describe the differences in your role as a coach between during practice and during meets?
JR: No difference. I coach them the same at practice as I do in meets. I may give fewer verbal cues during the meet.
ME: What about an early-season meet gets you the most excited as a coach?
JR: I am the same at every meet. I get excited when I see the athletes having fun. I'm not a rah, rah kind of guy, but the athletes know when I'm excited.
ME: Describe the roles and the importance your assistant coaches have in preparing VCU Track & Field for the upcoming season?
JR: My assistant coaches are the life-line of this program. I'm commanding the ship and they are stirring. I lead by allowing them to be free and open to do their own thing. I trust in what they are doing and the athletes trust them. My assistants make everything happen. Couldn't have asked for a better staff.