Coed Middle School Cross Country, Coed Varsity Cross Country · Volk Completes Prestigious USATF Level 2 Certification

 Joe Volk has been coaching for 35 years and 31 years at St. Mary’s.  His commitment to his sport and profession motivate him to continue to learn. We reached out to Joe to have him share his account of the process that he went though to get the USATF Level 2 certification, what he learned at the course and what it means to him to have this prestigious advanced certification. Below is Coach Volk’s account:

So back in 1988, when I was still a young coach (2nd year at St. Mary’s), the governing body of Cross Country and Track and Field in the United States (TAC aka The Athletics Congress, formerly the AAU) began a coaches education program. I received my Level 1 certification in March of that year. I knew of the Level 2 following that course, and each year I would look to see where the Level 2 course was going to be offered during that summer. Each year, I was too busy or the course’s location was too far away. I am sure that Jim Meyer grew tired of me talking about my desire to get my Level 2 certification each year during MFE meetings.

This January, I learned that this summer’s Level 2 course would be offered in Southern California. Having family in Los Angeles would mean that I could save a fair amount of money by not having to live in the dorms of Cal Sate Fullerton. I pulled the trigger and sought information about registering for the Level 2 course. I encountered a minor road block when I learned that my 1988 Level 1 certification needed to be updated. No problem! I was able to take a Level 1 course in Portland to get re-certified. I was fortunate to have some amazing instructors at this course; Dr. Matt Lydum (head T&F coach at Pacific University), Tom Milbrooke (veteran head T&F coach at Canby HS), Kathy Butler (2x Olympian, XC World Championship bronze medalist, 4x NCAA champion and Boulder Track and Field Elite Club), and Peter Thompson (40 years coaching experience at the Olympic, International, and NCAA collegiate levels).

My excitement at being one of just 70 coaches accepted into the Endurance event group for the July Level 2 course was sky high. Then I learned of the course work. During this past spring’s T&F season, I was given the curriculum for the Sports Science portion of the Level 2, which had to be completed before beginning the course. Unable to do it doing T&F season, I waited until after St. Mary’s graduation to begin the study of: 1) Physiology, 2) Training Theory, 3) Biomechanics, and 4) Psychology & Motor Learning. Each of the four units contained ten to twelve, 7-14 minute instructional lecture videos and its corresponding reading. After each unit, I was required to take two 25 question on-line quizzes and pass each with an 80% or better. The Sport Science instructor, Christine Brooks, gave students the opportunity do extra credit video lectures and quizzes on each unit to bolster their overall scores for the impending closed note final exam. I took advantage of this offer, and was quite satisfied to complete the Sport Science portion with an overall average of 94%.

Having completed the Sport Science portion, now it was on to the Level 2 school. The course took place at Cal State Fullerton July 17th-22nd, and I would make the 30-45 minute commute each morning (6:00am) and evening (8:30pm) to sit in classes covering: Aerobic training; Anaerobic training; Critical zone training; Strength training; Periodization; Race modeling; Recovery protocols; Environmental impacts on endurance athletes; 800m/1500m specific training; 5000m/10000m training; Steeplechase training; Marathon training; and Racewalking training. Our class day, which went from 8:15am to 8:15pm, consisted of lectures and discussions with a nightly homework assignment, a culminating small group project, and a closed note 25 question final exam.

I look back at what I undertook and what I’ve gained. I am happy to report that much of the content covered validated what I’ve been doing as a coach these past 35 years. It was refreshing to see the scientific underpinnings and terminology connecting my prior knowledge and it’s applications. More inspiring was spending time with and learning from some amazing instructors: Kathy Butler (Boulder Track and Field Elite Club); Mike Smith (head coach at Army); Dave Mills (assistant coach at Boise State); Joel Pearson (head coach at Evergreen State College). It was also a fortuitous treat to have one of my high school coaches, Tony Veney, teaching the Sprints/Hurdles/Relays event group in the classroom across the hall. In addition to being my coach during my senior year of high school, Tony also hired me as his assistant in 1981 for my first coaching job. Additionally, it was inspiring to sit in class with 69 other coaches of all levels and see that the future of our sport was in such good hands.

From Coach Dave Mills: “The National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE) is the premier authority on coaching education in the United States. Operating as a program of the United States Center for Coaching Excellence, NCACE offers accreditation and national recognition to sport organizations and institutions responsible for the preparation of coaches at any and all levels of sport. Our rigorous review process ensures alignment with SHAPE America’s National Standards for Sport Coaches, and that coaches are trained to effectively meet the unique developmental needs of every athlete. Through forward-thinking leadership and our team of expert reviewers, NCACE is uniquely positioned to provide the highest quality, empirically-based guidance for the creation, implementation and evaluation of coaching education programs. USATF Coaching Education Level 1 and 2 Schools are the only programs certified by NCACE.”

Click here to read Coach Volk’s full Coaching biography

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