Gia's Journal: An inside look to the Arizona track and field program
In the sport of track and field, it takes consistent effort, hard work and determination to excel. Here in Tucson, track and field’s coaching staff understands that. The Arizona program is one of tradition, consistent top finishes and opportunity.
Fred Harvey, has been the head coach for 14 years and consistently leads the team with top-25 finishes on the men's and women’s sides. Under his belt, he has coached 36 men with 107 All-America honors, 29 women with 77 All-America certificates and eight athletes with 23 NCAA individual championships.
One of Harvey’s Keys to Success? Patience.
“Patience is the most important thing,” Harvey said. “And understanding that you’re trying to coach your coaches to understand people better. We hire coaches because we think they have the skill set to develop in terms of the technical aspect, but the human interaction aspect is also very important."
It is said that if a coach can develop an athlete’s character and work ethic, then success will follow.
Arizona track and field focuses on bringing in athletes with talent, but also those with potential. There is a theme among the team, and it breeds success with true development and countless hours of dedication. So what makes this track program different from other Division I programs? Opportunity.
“The biggest difference is that it is a true program of opportunity,” Harvey said. “We want to win, we want to be successful, but it is not at all costs. We give far more people opportunities to compete here and we stick with them longer than other people would.”
In the long term, this has been one of the major components to success for the Wildcats track and field program. Harvey talked about how countless people who have come into the program developed into some of the top runners in the NCAA. Some have even won national championships individually.
Runners aren’t merely being recruited by their times. Harvey talks about how in this program, and with his job, he is able to watch people fulfill dreams they didn’t think they could.
“Knowing that I could have a hand in dream is one of the best parts of this job,” Harvey said.
While being able help fulfill dreams, opportunities and development, Arizona track and field doesn’t shy away from being one of the top programs in the country.
In 2013, the women’s team took second place at the Pac-12 Conference Championships and the men took seventh. In the same season at the outdoor NCAA championships, the women tied for a sixth-place finish and the men claimed 10th place.
Success continued into the 2014 season with skilled athletes scoring at the indoor national meet and the Pac-12 indoor meet, along with a 4x100-meter relay school record of 44.27.
In 2015, the men’s team broke a 34-year-old outdoor school record in the 4x400 meter run with a time of 3:04.51. The growth didn’t stop there. Just recently in the spring 2016 season, the women’s 4x400 meter relay broke the indoor school record running 3:33.29.
Arizona’s program may take time to develop athletes, but in the long run it breeds success on the track and stresses the importance of character.
“Our program allows people to develop and grow in every aspect, even in terms of looking across the board of a personality standpoint,” assistant coach Francesca Green said.
Arizona track and field next competes at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.
Follow Gia Trevisan on Twitter