Loyalty Leads Hoosiers To Give Back
Jan. 2, 2007
Loyalty is defined as the faithfulness or devotion to a person or cause. For the Indiana men's and women's track teams, loyalty is seen in the form of the coaching staff. Nowhere is this more evident than in the five individuals who choose to give their time as volunteer assistant coaches.
All five have competed professionally, and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program.
Richmond is in her third year with the team. She won the 2006 U.S. outdoor championship in the long jump, and is ranked seventh in the world in the event. Richmond became just the second female Olympian in Indiana track and field history when she competed in the long jump at the 2004 Olympics. She credits her opportunity to come back to help the team with where she is now.
"I wasn't ranked very high coming out of college," Richmond said. "They helped me because as a volunteer assistant I was able to travel with the team and if it was an open meet I could compete. That helped tremendously and kept me in competition. The first year, I had no agent, no sponsor, and was doing everything on my own budget."
Wilson, who finished second at the 2006 U.S. indoor championship in the triple jump, says that being a volunteer assistant has been a good opportunity for him.
"I love the program and I still wanted to be a part of it," Wilson said. "It's a good opportunity because I'm still competing and I'm able to train with my coach as well as have the chance to help the athletes."
Richmond and Wilson will typically complete their training before the team practices in the afternoon, and then they stay to work with the team. Both say that it is not too difficult to balance their professional schedule while coaching at Indiana. They compete mostly in the summer, following the NCAA Tournament.
Volunteer assistant coach Stephen Haas, a three-time All-America distance runner with Indiana, is currently preparing for the 2008 Olympic Trials. He also cited the opportunity to continue working with head cross country coach Robert Chapman as one of the reasons he wanted to return to Indiana.
"Stephen did a good job pacing them over the first 14 miles, which I really think kept them from over running the pace early," Chapman said.
"I wanted to be able to help with the transition of having a new coach," Neville said. "I'm the oldest sprinter of the group that was here when Coach (Ed) Beathea was here, and I knew the most about the athletes and what they may need to adapt to a new coach."
Neville is currently training towards a professional career following his graduation from Indiana in the spring of 2007.
Also serving as a volunteer assistant is Dave Volz. A 1992 Olympian, he is in his third year helping the pole-vaulters. Volz was dubbed 'Best Vaulter in the World' by Track and Field News in 1982.
Each former student-athlete has used the opportunity to work with the team in a different way. Both Richmond and Haas cite their involvement with recruiting as another way they've been able to help the team. They say that their experience at Indiana will help them if they want a coaching job down the road.
"I really wanted to take advantage of learning recruiting," Haas said. "Coach Chapman bounces ideas off me, and I've been able to help with a lot of aspects of recruiting."
Richmond tries to help any of the athletes she works with who want to pursue a professional career as much as she can.
"I was a little above average coming out of college," Richmond said. "The shoe companies won't offer the big money unless you are No. 1. It's hard to get started. I try to offer advice with ways to get grants to help with training expenses."
Wilson is excited about working with the team for this coming season.
"This program is really looking up," Wilson said. "We have a lot of home meets this year, and we want to have as many fans as we can cheering for everyone. Things are really looking good for this coming season."
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