The joys of coaching |

The joys of coaching

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Scurrying about the infield to keep up with everything, walkie talkie glued to his palm, the wind rippling his track pants and kids coming at him from every direction, it’d be tough to fault Jerry Shafer for being a little overwhelmed.But the first-year Rifle track and field coach charged with running Friday’s 15-school meet coaching is a labor of love.”It’s all worth it in the end,” Shafer said. “To see a kid get a personal best and see them get excited, that’s what it’s all about.” Glenwood Springs coach Blake Risner, less than a week removed from putting on his own Demon Invitational, agrees.

“It’s not stressful,” he said. “It’s a pleasure when it all boils down to it, but it’s definitely a task.”A track coach’s job is to be as ubiquitous as humanly possible. Doling out tips and encouragement to young athletes, keeping times and just simply keeping everyone and everything in order is no pedestrian task.Track coaches no doubt rival the mileage counts of their athletes, zig-zagging the infield to make the necessary rounds.”As a coach, you feel obligated to get around and see as many kids as possible,” Risner explained. “At any given moment, you’re spotting a race, getting kids prepared for races or motivating with words of wisdom.”

It’s all in a rewarding day’s work. And no coach could get the job done without assistant coaches and a supportive community. Running Friday’s Rifle Invitational took a major collaborative effort.”It’s a lot of small stuff,” Shafer said. “You’ve got run around and set up the meet, you’ve got to have all the starters in order, getting people to help out on hurdles. A lot goes into it. You’re preparing a week in advance.”All the parents, volunteers, coaches have been lifesavers. This is the first place I’ve been with this many volunteers who want to come in and help. It allows us coaches to go out and help the kids.”And with kids, just about anything is possible. The quirky and unimaginable are all too imaginable. Hence, coaches at times assume a role resembling that of a parent.

Shafer dished out a lighthearted punishment to one of his shot putters on Friday. As penalty for holding his girlfriend’s hand in the infield, Shafer had thrower larger than your average distance runner run the 1,600-meter run.The girl is running the 3,200 next week.”It’s one of my rules. I don’t like kids hanging all over each other in the middle of a meet. I asked him afterwards, ‘Was she worth it?’ and he said, yeah,” said Shafer, who once ran under a coach with a similar rule. “It’s one of those things you’ve got to do as a coach.”Ah, the joys of coaching.

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