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The Most Important Lesson Jerry Schumacher Taught Me

2017 USATF Coach of the Year, Jerry Schumacher of the Bowerman TC, at the Portland Track Festival with his college coach turned  friend, colleague, and mentor Martin Smith, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country at Iowa State University. 

2017 USATF Coach of the Year, Jerry Schumacher of the Bowerman TC, at the Portland Track Festival with his college coach turned  friend, colleague, and mentor Martin Smith, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country at Iowa State University. 

Jerry Schumacher, former coach of several NCAA National Champion Men's Cross Country teams at the University of Wisconsin and current Head Coach of the Bowerman Track Club, is a friend and mentor of mine. He was recently honored with the USATF Coach of the Year Award. A recognition long overdue and rightly earned. 

In the early 2010s Jerry would invite me to hangout and be a fly on the wall at many workouts of his BTC professionals. An incredible gift. As a young coach, I learned a lot from being exposed to the day-to-day realities of coaching high performance, world class athletes. It was an unbelievable education. And shaped the coach I am today. I am forever thankful for his kindness and the opportunity he afforded me. He didn't have to do it. But he did. This is the type of person Jerry is. He is a Wisconsinite though and through. Blue collar. Stoic. Honest. Loyal. A champion of hard work. 

The core lesson I learned from Jerry was the significant importance of strength. Physiological. Mental. Emotional. The total package. 

I'll never forget what Jerry told me on a cold January morning in 2011 after a BTC workout, "It doesn't matter what someone's basic speed is, if they get to the end of the race overwhelmingly fatigued, they won't be able to capitalize on it. An athlete must get to the end of a race as fresh as possible so they can effectively utilize their speed. A tired body and mind cannot sprint. To do so requires a great deal of strength from an aerobic, mental, and emotional standpoint. It is all interconnected."

This insight has influenced my coaching practice ever since. 

Thank you Jerry for your mentorship, friendship, and many pearls of wisdom. Congrats on being named the USATF Coach of the Year!

And thank you, dear reader, for being here. Your presence is a privilege. //

jm

Jonathan Marcus