What kind of feedback have you received?
Feedback has been mixed. Several coaches have indicated they are excited about the change, and some have shown concerns about safety. We have adopted safety guidelines that will be published within the next week or so, and these guidelines should be followed at all practices and meets. If the guidelines are followed, and everyone involved embraces the safety guidelines, things should go well. The biggest thing with safety in the javelin is the have the area completely clear when the device is being thrown- including athletes, coaches and officials. Just like anything, when we get too comfortable and think nothing bad can happen, that's exactly when it does, so we should all be vigilant in following those guidelines. When it comes down to it, on a national level, accidental injuries are just as common in the shot put, discus, and pole vault as in the javelin.
What challenges do you see programs/SCTCCCA having to overcome to host the event?
It will be an initial challenge for host schools to find a location to throw. The state I grew up in has the javelin as a sanctioned event, and the event is usually contested in a practice field. The runway and sector are painted on the grass, and this allows the event to be contested safely away from any crowds so it is contained. I've been in contact with Dutch Fork (host of the Coaches Classic) and Spring Valley's coaches, and they are working through possible locations at their schools. Working out details logistically and finding officials for the event will be our initial focus.
How did the proposal get to the League this year?
The proposal was brought to the executive committee of the SCHSL after our winter meeting in 2018. The committee responded to us this summer asking for some safety guidelines to make sure everything would be controlled and there would be no safety issues. We provided them with those guidelines this fall, and the event was approved last month.
Do you see other events being proposed in the future?
The 4x200 relay keeps coming up in our coaches association meetings, it's something some coaches feel very strongly about, so that might be something that coaches push in the future. That's the only event that has really come up, most other events that are done in some other states require significant changes to facilities, such as the hammer and the steeple chase, and most states don't adopt those because of the cost. Some other states have a multi-event state championship that takes place at a different time from the team state championship- which would be kind of a neat idea but I think we've got some other irons in the fire right now we need to focus on first.
Will guidelines be provided the future regarding the event? Please explain.
One of our board members who is a throws expert is finalizing our document laying out the safety guidelines and all the rules regarding the javelin. We have adopted that we will be using the rubber tips, so if coaches start purchasing the implements they need to have the rubber tips. Our guidelines should be published in the next week.
What other projects are you working on as President at this time and plan for in the future?
We have been collecting data regarding the opinions of several groups regarding the possibility of a sanctioned indoor track season, and that proposal is being prepared this week. We have proposed it on multiple occasions in the past, but we're hoping the document we've created with data from stakeholders will help our case.
We will be rolling out our new NFHS Track and Field Official's test next month. Officials may take the test to become NFHS trained officials. Currently, all our officials at the state and qualifier level are USATF officials, and some of the rules aren't exactly the same. We will invite all current USATF officials in the state, as well as officials from football to take the test and work as officials. There will be an application process for the qualifiers and state meet, and those officials will be trained. This avoids 2 things: first off we want to avoid any situation where a coach in this state has to make decisions that affect the outcome of high stakes track meets; second, this will make sure the people officiating the high stakes meets are the most qualified options we can find who know the NFHS rules.
Coaches who have athletes participating in an event should not be put in a situation where they have to make a call that negatively affects a competing team. Likewise, the leadership of our coaches association, who are put in these positions to represent the coaches, should not be put in a place where they have to make a call that negatively affect the season of someone we represent. This creates divisiveness between our coaches, and we need to all be working towards common goals. We've been moving forward on this for a few years, this test will help get us even closer.
We are also taking a good look at the Shrine Bowl Run
, and evaluating whether or not we want to make some changes regarding the format of the run.
We saw the five-week extension of cross country failed, do you see it being extended in the future?
You know, this is an interesting debate, and I'm not sure what the right answer is. From an administrative and High School League perspective, they don't want athletes to get burned out, or overloaded, or have conflicts between fall and winter sports seasons, so they design the closed season to protect our athletes. On the flip side, a study done by David D'Souza in the early 1990's showed that a track or cross country athletes was 41% more likely to be injured if training without the presence of a coach. I think both sides are looking at the best interest of the athlete. The coaches perspective is that the athlete is going to train and participate in these regional and national races anyway, the coach would like to be able to mentor and oversee the training to make sure the athlete doesn't do anything crazy and get injured. However, I respect the administrative point of view intending to protect our athletes. I would encourage coaches to read the high school league rules about open and closed season very carefully, and make sure you abide by those rules, but do everything you can within those rules to help your athlete be successful.
What kind of involvement of coaches in the state do you need to help with new events, etc.?
We continue to get lots of young coaches in the sport - and they always have a ton of energy. I would encourage these young coaches to get involved and work on becoming a leader in our track community. There's so much turnover in the track coaching community across the state, that we rarely get young coaches that get and stay involved. I would encourage them to get involved in our association, and learn all they can about their events and what we do to move track and field and cross country forward.
What do you hope to achieve at the winter meeting next month?
We're working on getting in to see the new facility at USC, and bringing in an expert on the javelin to give a short clinic for coaches regarding techniques and safety. In addition to that, we'll be talking about the Shrine Bowl Run and whether or not we'd like to see some changes.