* Photo Credit: @OHSAASports
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association recently named their state-by-state Coach of the Year winners for the 2019 outdoor season. On the men's side in Ohio, it was Jason Roach of Pickerington High School Central who secured the honor.
Roach's Tigers are coming off a record setting state meet performance that saw them post 87 points to earn the team championship victory. Their many highlights at Jesse Owens Stadium included winning all four relay competitions along with individual triumphs by Evan Matthews (300 hurdles) and Denzell Feagin (100 & 200).
MileSplit had an opportunity to catch up with Jason to discuss the USTFCCCA award, an overview of his team's season, his coaching mentors and more.
Coach, congratulations on a well-deserved recognition. What does receiving this award mean to you?
"Winning the award is nice, but the most satisfying thing for me this season was having an opportunity to work with a great group of kids. They worked very hard, they brought the best out in one another and their results on the track speak for themselves. Being recognized is great, of course, but the true joys of coaching come from working day-in and day-out with your athletes. I was very fortunate to have such a talented group of young men this year."
The Tigers had an incredible season that culminated with record setting performances at State's. Did their success exceed even your own expectations?
"I knew we were very good and that we'd have a shot at winning, but I'm not sure I would have predicted that we'd score 87 points and sweep the relays. The team really caught momentum during the regional meet and they carried that through to the state championship. I'm so proud of them; they worked hard and they earned it."
The state meet was filled with highlights for your squad, but does any one moment stick out for you?
"It's obviously very hard to choose, but one fond memory I have is watching Brady Johnson make up ground on the anchor leg in the 4x800. I first met Brady when he was in the 8th grade while he was focused on baseball for his primary athletic interest. When I saw how he ran down fly balls and ran the bases, I knew he could be a special track talent and wanted him to be on my team some day. His perseverance on the last lap of the 4x800 was impressive."
Do you have a specific coaching philosophy that you employ?
"I think coaches need to learn from past mistakes and understand what the needs are for their current group. This year we backed off the intensity in practice with our sprinters toward the time of our conference meet, but we still pushed our distance guys hard. We tend to keep the intensity high during winter and the early phase of our season and then ease off. I believe this approach was one of the factors that led to some of the success we enjoyed this season."
Who are some of your coaching mentors?
"There are many coaches that I admire and who have guided me along the way, but two in particular that have helped me a great deal are Scott Williamson and Bob Willey. Both of these men have taught me a lot and I'm much better off in my own coaching journey for having had the opportunity to work with them."