Expectations and Accountability
Early on in any new season that begins, a common conversation that takes place between a coach and their athletes is usually focused on expectations and accountability. When I was an athlete in high school, the conversation was more focused on team rules. Once I arrived at SUNY Fredonia, the conversation quickly turned to expectations.
I vividly remember our first team meeting with Coach O’Gorman. It was in early September, 2000, and took place in the student-athlete lounge in Dods Hall. There weren’t that many of us, maybe 40-50 athletes who were going to embark on that 2000-01 season. As a team, Fredonia was coming off of indoor and outdoor conference championships. The double decade of dominance streak was broken in 1997, but another streak quickly began in 1998. I wasn’t made aware of the streak until this first team meeting.
I sat with another freshman thrower, Erik Dalecki. We sat in the back of the room. We were the only freshman throwers, and quickly became friends once we realized we would both be throwing on the team.
Coach O’Gorman, or Coach OG as I called him, began the meeting with a recap of the previous season, who graduated, new freshmen, new transfers, completing NCAA paperwork, and what to expect during the upcoming season. One of the primary reasons I picked Fredonia was because of the rich track and field history the team had. Reflecting back now, it shouldn’t have been the top reason I selected Fredonia, but what can you do now.
Coach laid out his expectations for us—that we attend practice every day, make sure we go to class, ensure our grades are high enough to be academically eligible, to make an appointment with the trainer (if necessary), to get our weightlifting sessions in, and to take care of our teammates. To be honest, it wasn’t really what I was expecting (no pun intended). In high school we were told not to do certain things. Here, the message was about doing things that will give us the best opportunity to be successful. Coach did not mess around with grades—I should know, I almost failed one of his classes, and when I asked him about it he said, “Charlie, sometimes you gotta bite the bullet”. That wasn’t the response I was expecting, but certainly ties into accountability.
Before the first practice of the season I met with Coach OG. He wanted to discuss my seasonal goals and how I would achieve them. Again, this was my first real introduction to accountability. I told Coach that I wanted to compete in the 55m, 200m, weight throw, and shot-put at the SUNYAC conference championships. I told him I was going to be the first thrower to qualify and compete in those events from Fredonia. He asked me how I was going to do that. I told him I would hit the qualifying marks before the conference meet. That was not the response he was looking for.
He asked me again, how I would qualify for those four events. This meeting took place in October, 2000. Our conference meet was in February, 2001. Again, I said I would hit the qualifying marks before the conference meet. At this point I was frustrated. I knew he was too because he asked me to leave his office. Mind you, this wouldn’t be the last time in our three years together.
To be continued in part 2
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.