Track coach speaks about building excellence

Joe Vigil has coached track and field at Adam’s State College in Colorado for 29 years, trained hundreds of students, been to different continents, worked with Olympic athletes and, last Tuesday, he was at Harvard-Westlake.

Chalmers East was filled with coaches and the staff from the Athletic Department to listen to Vigil’s “Building a Culture of Excellence” speech.

Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas introduced him with a list of accomplishments to which Vigil responded, “Without athletes, I would be nothing, so the list of accomplishments isn’t mine. It’s the kids’.”

Under Vigil’s 29 years of coaching at Adam’s State College, his team has won 20 national championships, 425 All-Americans, 89 individual national champions, 12 team championships and 12 individual records.

Vigil has been coaching Team Running USA since 2001 and has also coached two Olympic medal athletes, Bronze medalist Deena Kastor and Silver medalist Meb Klefzighi.
Vigil’s speech was about the importance of coaches and the roles they play in the lives of their athletes.

Every January, he makes his athletes write down their goals and talk about them.
Throughout the year he will keep track of each athlete’s progress and set new goals to reach during their athletic career.

“Coaches teach people how to strive for goals,” Vigil said. “We have to get into the hearts and minds of people.”

In order to win over the hearts of his own athletes, Vigil used to memorize all the GPA’s of all his athletes and spent hours in the library to find interesting articles for them to read.

“Win them over,” he said. “If you let people know you care about them from the bottom of your heart, they will produce for you and they will work for you. Show them you’re interested.”

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