|Walter Curry, head track and field coach, says he loves to make a difference in his student-athletes’ lives.|
|Q: When did you become the head mens and womens track coach?
A: I started coaching at Wesleyan in December of 2002.
Q: You are a U.S.A. Track and Field Level II certified coach in sprints, hurdles and jumps. At Wesleyan are these what you specialize in?
A: My first three seasons with the team I coached just the sprints, long, triple and high jumps. I was lucky enough to have a really good part-time hurdle coach and a very good parttime pole vault coach.
Q: Prior to Wesleyan, you worked for eight years as an assistant track and field coach at Boston College. There, you had success coaching three Division I All-Americans and numerous Big East all-conference and all-New England athletes. What led you to Wesleyan?
A: I landed at Wesleyan because I was given a chance to be a head coach and lead a track program. I learned a great many things about track; coaching; administration; people; and just life while I was at Boston College. I really loved it there and I had some wonderful experiences, but it was time for me to see if I could do things on my own.
Q: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? Were you a track star there?
A: I got my degree in journalism from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Go Cyclones! I worked in TV for five years before I got into coaching. And yes, I was a student-athlete on the track team at ISU. I was pretty good, not what you would call a superstar but my name is still on the top 10 list in the hurdle events. And its been a while since I graduated.
Q: Why did you decide ultimately to become a track coach? Is your position rewarding?
A: It is what I think I was meant to do. What can you say about being able to do something you love with people who feel the same way you do, like the coaching staff and athletes, and get to mentor and share in the growing experience of all the student-athletes that come through your program? The best part is having these young people call me up or come and visit and tell me that something I told them or they learned from their relationship with me, and the rest of their teammates made a difference in their life. That makes me feel like what I do is very important.
Q: What classes do you teach, or have you taught, as an adjunct professor?
A: I teach Beginning Strength Training and Beginning Fitness. I enjoy helping students here on campus improve their health and fitness.
Q: When did you begin running and when did you realize you wanted to pursue racing? Were you ever a cross-country runner or are you more of a sprinter?
A: I started running track in the seventh grade and started hurdles in eighth grade. As for cross-country, no way. I will run no farther than the 800-meter!
Q: Who are your key student-athletes this season?
A: Distance runner Ellen Davis. Our best steeple chaser is Owen Kiely. The 400m runner would be Stephanie OBrien. The triple jumper is Sam Grover. These are just some of the athletes who we depend on.
Q: What lessons do you stress to the students?
A: We ask all of our athletes to first, commit to our program; second, work hard; third, be accountable to the coaching staff and your teammates; fourth, manage their time well; and fifth, they need to have a love for track and field.
Q: I understand that you have produced an instruction video on hurdling?
A: My college track coach, Bill Bergan called me up and asked me if I could do him a favor. Coach Bergan was, and is still, a wonderful person and mentor. I jumped at the chance to help him out. His favor was to conduct a video clinic on the common errors and mistakes that happen when young track athletes are learning to hurdle. To make a long story short, everything turned out great and today I still have people tell me that they used my tape or have heard about it. Yes, I am in the video, but only as a coach.
Q: You have been a clinician for hurdle events at the Brown University Track and Field Camp, and you worked with the New England High School Track and Field Coaches Clinic. Why do you do this, and what do you hope participants get out of your teaching?
A: My answer is the same as before; the best part is having these young people call me up or come and visit and tell me that something I told them made a difference in their life. That makes me feel like what I do is very important and I was able to help them reach a personal goal.
Q: You have three children. Do you encourage them to get involved in athletics?
A: At this point in my life, my main interest is in my family. My kids are involved in lots of activities so my wife and I try to go and support their interest. My daughter is on her high schools dance team. I coach my oldest sons Pop Warner football team. My youngest child is a pretty good little soccer player. Plus there is baseball, dance class, summer camp, family trips, and other things. So all I do is try to be positive and help them find the joy in sports. I stress fun, hard work, commitment, sacrifice and pride.
Q: What is your coaching strategy for your own children?
A: I do have one rule for my kids when it comes to activities. If you start it, you finish it! No quitting in the middle of anything. If you really dont like what youre doing, once you are finished with it, you dont have to do it again.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|