With the end of the cross country season now here, the winter track team begins to ready itself for the coming season.
The athletes who will be competing this spring for track and field take part in such events as the 100-meter dash, shot put, hurdles and many more.
Entering his third year of coaching at Keene State College Assistant Coach Nick Athanasapoulos thinks that this season, which began on Oct. 23, is going to be “a good one.”
Athanasapoulos said since his days in college as a student athlete he knew he wanted to get into coaching, he just did not know when or at what level.
He said the opportunity came one day when his old high school coach, Tom Pickering, now head coach for the track and field program at KSC, called and asked what he was doing. Athanasapoulos said he knew a great opportunity when he saw one and took the job working with his old mentor.
Throughout his four years in high school, Athanasapoulos played multiple sports but he said track and field was always his focus.
He said that after high school he went to Cornell University, where he ran track and field. Athanasapoulos said that he ran both the indoor heptathlon, which is seven events over two days, and the outdoor decathlon, which is ten events over two days.
These events include various sprints, hurdles and jumping events. After setting a decathlon record his first year of college, Athanasapoulous said he was plagued by injuries for the rest of his college career.
Athanasapoulos now says that Pickering and himself work well together to push the athletes since they have known each other for years.
Athansapoulous said that the key to the relationship is mutual respect, which allows both coaches to build off the other’s strengths. He also said that they “feed off each other, and give each other input,” which helps them to make collective decisions.
Grace Zangrilli, a first-year team member at KSC and thrower for the track and field team, said that Athanasapoulous is a big help.
Zangrilli said she throws shot put, hammer, discus, weight and javelin for the team.
She said that Athanasapoulos has helped her to work on her form and that Athanasapoulos is a very patient coach who knows how to talk to players to draw out their best efforts.
Athanasapoulos said he chooses to pay attention to the small details, as they “make the biggest difference over time.”
He said that he has learned there is only so much you can change over any period, so the key is to make a training plan and stick to it, knowing better performances will follow.
Athanasapoulos said that this year’s team is very young, but they are also the “building blocks of the future.”
He also said that he has been impressed so far this year, as most of the athletes have set personal bests.
Zangrilli said Athanasapoulos helps improve her game a lot of different ways, including recording practices and watching them back to catch any mistakes.
She said Athanasapoulos will then come to a player and say, “Here’s what you did wrong, and here’s how we are going to fix it.”
Zangrilli also said that being a student athlete has helped keep her on track both physically, and academically.
She said that throwing is one of her favorite things and it’s nice to have coaches who “know what they are doing,” and work well together.
Coach Pickering was unavailable for comment on this article.
Simon Burch can be contacted at email@example.com