The 2004-2005 school year marked my first season as throwing coach at SUNY Fredonia. I had a great group of student-athletes that far exceeded expectations. Pictured left to right is Meredith, Tim, myself, Nick, Jen, and Alex. This picture was taken in the circle at Slippery Rock University. This road trip gave the athletes an opportunity to bond in ways they didn't think were possible (Evening Star Motel anyone).
What was unique about my first season as throwing coach was the fact that I was an athlete at SUNY Fredonia during the 2003-2004 season, my senior year. I was teammates with Meredith and Jen. Jen and I are the last teammates from SUNY Fredonia to win the same event during the Outdoor SUNYAC Championships. We both won the hammer in 2004 at SUNY Cortland. I don't believe teammates from SUNY Fredonia have won the same event at the same championships since 2004.
What I find so special about this group is not only that it was my first season as a coach, but the throwers were so special. Meredith was awarded the most dedicated female athlete by her peers. Tim transferred into SUNY Fredonia from another college. He was a scholarship kicker of a Division I Football team before coming to SUNY Fredonia. Nick also transferred to SUNY Fredonia from Michigan State. In high school, Nick was Cross-Country runner. All 6'3" of him was a Cross-Country runner. He had never thrown up until this season. Nick knocked me down the SUNY Fredonia Top 10 list in the 35lb. Weight and Hammer Throw during the 2005-2006 season. He took to the throwing events especially well. Alex was a freshman during this season. His older brother Wally was my teammate the previous season. Alex had never thrown the 35lb. Weight or Hammer before this season. He qualified for the SUNYAC Conference Championships in both events his freshman year, easily beating my freshmen bests of 40' in the Weight Throw and 37m in the Hammer Throw. Jen had a very special season. She had a very decorated career up to this 2004-2005 season, her senior year.
Jen qualified for the Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships in the 20lb. Weight Throw. She won the Indoor SUNYAC Championship in the 20lb. Weight Throw. She ended up finishing the season ranked 13th. Jen set the SUNY Fredonia 20lb. Weight Throw record that season. The NCAA decided to take 12 athletes that season for the 20lb. Weight Throw. Jen was the first person left home that season. That set the stage for a fantastic run during the Outdoor season. Jen ended up breaking the SUNY Fredonia Hammer Throw record, defending her SUNYAC Hammer Throw Championship, and throwing at the Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships held at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
My advice for new coaches who may be coaching at their Alma Mater at the college or high school level:
Tell me about your first season as a sport coach. What sport did you coach? What were your initial thoughts? What did you learn? What would you do differently?
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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.