A Sad Time for US Track & Field – Demise of Coaching Education


Around the world successful sports and sporting nations know that that the following paradigm must be in place and fine-tuned. That paradigm is simple:

  1. A system must Athlete Centered- they are the ones who perform in the competitive arena.
  2. Coach Driven- they prepare the athlete, provide stability and continuity, they are the cornerstones.
  3. Administratively Supported- This is pretty self explanatory, get out of the way and support the athlete and the coach. For years USAT&F and it’s predecessor TAC has had it backwards. For them it is administratively centered, athlete driven and oh by the way, as an after thought, we have somebody out there called coaches, lets crap all over them.

The events of the past several days in regard to the Coaching Education only serve to underscore this. I was fortunate, along with Dr. Joe Vigil and Gary Winckler to be one of the three founders of the program. I also served as the first director for the formative years. It was a program designed by coaches to raise the standard of coaching through education and to empower the coach through knowledge. There were no political agendas, but immediately there was very powerful and vocal; opposition form the old guard left over from the AAU days. They saw it as a threat to their little fiefdom, but thanks to Berny Wagner who pushed it from the inside we got it off the ground. And it really took off, much to the oppositions chagrin. I was not involved for a period of time, although I followed it quite closely. I got back into it in 2001 as a teacher at some of the schools. It was apparent that the program was a great success; in many ways it was the most successful program in USAT&F. It raised the standard of coaching, it trained coaches whose athlete’s won medals in international competition. Despite the success I knew that the opposition was still there from1983, they were just waiting until they could get at the program and compromise its structure and integrity. Well it took until this year with the reorganization and the committee to study USAT&F to finally begin to undue all that had been done. There is no question that the new regime has a very strong political agenda that is resistant to change and innovation. Their agenda is to feather their nests and protect their constituencies, make it administratively centered and keep coaches in the dark.

This demands a strong call to action. All of us who are concerned about the great sport of Track & Filed and coaching must stand up and do something. Flood the national office with emails and letters, even phone calls, coaches must be heard, the coaching education program must go on in the vision of all those who labored so hard to build it to where it is today. If you have a blog write about it. If you are on Twitter, Tweet about it. I am not a politician, but I am pissed, this is an insult to coaches and coaching. EVERYONE WHO HAS GONE THROUGH THE PROGRAM GET INVOLVED AND SAVE THE INTEGRITY OF COACHING EDUCATION.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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