Assistant track coach Ronald Stallard is the 2017 Kansas Cross Country and Track and Field Coaches Association’s (KCCTFCA) Jumps Coach of the Year. Head track coach Emily Fossoh publicly announced Stallard’s award in a tweet Jan. 6, though Stallard learned he had won the award in late October.
Stallard was chosen by the KCCTFCA committee over all the other jump coaches who were nominated in the state. Any head coach in Kansas can nominate their assistant coaches for the award. Fossoh said she wanted to recognize him for helping multiple athletes get to state over the past few years.
“He’s dedicated in working with his athletes even on the offseason,” Fossoh said. “In winter conditioning and summer conditioning, providing video and feedback, he’s literally just doing everything possible to make them a better athlete.”
Five jumpers made it to state from East last year compared to one or two from other schools, according to Stallard. He assumes that he won due to the accomplishments of these athletes. While he attributes most of their success to talent and hard-work, he focuses on two primary strategies to coach successfully. He stays up to date on all the training information by following breaking news from research universities and attends coaching clinics. He also focuses building relationships with the athletes.
Stallard has incorporated the new coaching strategies into his training exercises. He has learned it’s useless to try and stretch unactivated muscles, so at the beginning of practices athletes participate in “dynamic workouts” – they move around to engage their muscles. He knows from research that long jogs don’t help with sprints, so sprinters partake in shorter, more intense workouts.
“When an athlete comes to me and they ask, ‘Coach, why are we doing this?’ If I don’t have an answer, they’re like ‘Well, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s just copying somebody’s program.’ You have to know what you’re doing,” Stallard said. “That’s a big reason these relationships become so strong. They know that I care about their success.”
But more important than understanding the research, Stallard believes caring about his athletes’ success helps push athletes to break records. He has driven to senior Jessie Stindt’s winter meet at Pitt State just to watch her compete. He spends time with his athletes in his classroom before school. He told former runner and senior Peyton Hassenflu that she could persevere even when she had shin splints during the season as long as she worked at it.
“He was always there to support me,” Hassenflu said. “If I did well, he was so proud of me and the first person to hug me. Having a coach you can connect with was really special.”
From filming her jumps and comparing it to Olympians to drawing angles on an app to show the strategy needed to achieve the best possible jump, Stindt thinks Stallard is always “helping out” her and the team. At every meet. At every practice. At every moment. His focus is on his coaching.
“He’s always thinking about it, he talks about it all the time, and we all like to say he has 10 extra daughters, because he kind of just took us all in,” Stindt said.