By Gene Lee
Joe Vigil has coached track and field at Adamâs 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 Vigilâs âBuilding a Culture of Excellenceâ speech.
Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas introduced him with a list of accomplishments to which Vigil responded, âWithout athletes, I would be nothing, so the list of accomplishments isnât mine. Itâs the kidsâ.â
Under Vigilâs 29 years of coaching at Adamâs 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.
Vigilâs 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 athleteâs progress and set new goals to reach during their athletic career.
âCoaches teach people how to strive for goals,â Vigil said. âWe have to get into the hearts and minds of people.â
In order to win over the hearts of his own athletes, Vigil used to memorize all the GPAâs of all his athletes and spent hours in the library to find interesting articles for them to read.
âWin them over,â he said. âIf 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 youâre interested.â