The 2018-19 track & field season officially begins on Monday, October 22nd. By that point, our student-athletes will have been on campus for about 7 weeks. What happens from when they step foot on campus to the 22ndcan greatly impact how their season will go. For others, the start of the season begins the day after the previous one ends. That would mean that for incoming freshmen, the season might begin at the beginning of June. The same can be said for collegiate athletes.
What happens from the end to beginning, as I previously mentioned, can make all the difference in the world from having a successful and not so successful season. I’m not just speaking about the physical aspects of throwing. I’m also speaking to the mental aspects as well. Depending on who you talk to, the literature you read, and who you follow on social media, one might put more stock in the physical rather than the mental or vise-versa.
I began speaking to my incoming freshmen throwers after they graduated from high school. In July, I sent them an email with an attached letter sharing my excitement about the upcoming season as well as my thoughts about what they can expect from our program. I asked them to think about themselves and what they want to get out of their first season throwing at Nazareth College.
Everyone responded back to me at some point during the summer. I felt it was important to plant the seeds of what they want to get out of the upcoming season. I have thoughts about each individual thrower, their goals, and how their individual goals will impact our throwing squad as a whole. Team chemistry and culture are extremely important. That’s not to say that everyone will become best friends throughout the course of the season. How they interact with each other could be predictive of their overall success. Let me go into more detail with that thought.
We probably have all heard the expression that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. The same can be said with athletes on any sport team. Over the course of the past few years here at Nazareth we have had to tell some of our best athletes that this wasn’t the team for them, and that their negativity was a detriment to the overall health of the team.
With no returning throwers until April, we have a group of very exceptional and talented athletes joining us this year. Numbers wise, the most freshmen we have had on the throwing squad at the same time. My focus for this season is to build an environment in which our throwers are able to thrive, maximize their efforts, and achieve their academic and athletic goals. To make my own goals clearer and brought to the forefront, my one word for the season is culture. One of my favorite authors, Jon Gordon, speaks about picking one word a year to focus on. Last year I picked the word resiliency. This year I have selected the word culture. I have let that part of my coaching slip the past couple of seasons. Coming off of our successful 2015-16 campaign, I did not emphasize culture enough the past couple of seasons. With a new group of throwers this year, my primary focus is to help develop and foster a culture that each individual will be able to thrive in while also supporting and encouraging their teammates’ voyages as well.
This is the first time in my coaching career that I have only freshmen. I’m excited and motivated by their enthusiasm to start the season. Our culture is beginning to take shape. Let’s get the 2018-19 season off to an extraordinary start.
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.