USATF – The Mushroom System


The following editorial tells it like it is. USATF is not and never will be about coaches or coaching. They epitomize the mushroom system – Keep them in the dark and shovel shit on them. I think it time the USOC take a long hard look at USATF. It is the USOC that sanctions USATF as the governing body.

Editorial: Has USATF Declared War On U.S. Coaches?

by James Dunaway & Larry Eder

First came the appointment of a USATF Director of Coaching. Who knew we needed one?

Then came the gutting of the Coaches Education program — a program created and run entirely by coaches without any help from USATF for most of its 25 years – a program which educated more than 20,000 American high school and college coaches – a program which visibly raised the level of U.S. track and field coaching, and U.S. performances – in short, the most successful initiative in USATF’s history.

Earlier this year, most of the distinguished coaches who led Coaching Ed for the past decade suddenly resigned because of changes which were being made in Indianapolis. Said USATF, We’ll get new coach-instructors who will be just as good. We’re still waiting to be told who they are.

Now comes USATF’s Coaches Registry, which more than one well-known coach has called, Blackmail. That’s not our word, but it was spoken by coaches known and respected in our sport.

Blackmail, because if you don’t sign up, you can’t get a coach accreditation for USATF Championships. Which means you can’t get into the practice and warmup areas to work with your athletes in the important days and hours before they compete. No matter how good a coach you are.

One well-known coach, a former Olympic medalist and world champion, said, I don’t like it at all, but I signed up because my athletes need me and expect me to be there.

There are several other important privileges not available to non-registered coaches, but the issue of greatest concern is the coach accreditation for the Championships.

Sam Seemes, who leads the U.S. Track and Cross-Country Coaches of America, reports that most of the comments he has received about Coaches Registry were unfavorable. The day after USATF announced the program, Seemes and USTFCCCA president Curtis Frye sent a message to members which included the following:

USTFCCCA Members should know that the USTFCCCA neither supports the Coaches Registry program, nor did we develop the program. We are disappointed that USATF implied in their press release that the USTFCCCA was supportive of the Coaches Registry program they have established. Furthermore, we disagree with the statement that the USATF Coaches Registry ‘will identify and acknowledge the coaches who represent the profession’s highest standards.’ USATF CEO Doug Logan said, No group is more important to the development of our athletes than coaches. He certainly has a strange way of showing it. One wonders why USTFCCA wasn’t informed of Coaches Registry before it was announced, and why USTFCCA wasn’t asked to participate in developing a program specifically involving its membership?

Just as bad was USATF’s timing. Here is a new program, affecting the professional lives and status of more than 30,000 coaches, and USATF announces it at the most important time of the year, when coaches at every level are deeply involved in championship-level competition, and USATF gives them five weeks to decide. That may be legal, but it is certainly not fair to the coaches.

In politics, that’s called an ultimatum. And it is usually followed by a war.

James Dunaway/Executive Editor and Larry Eder/Group PublisherAmerican Track & Field,

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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