YEAR ONE

Felician University_Logotype_Mark_INLINEAbout a year ago, I sent my resume in for a college coaching gig that caught my eye. Felician College (now Felician University) was looking to replace the longtime and departing coach, which also happened to be just after the first outdoor track season in school history had concluded. It would prove to be no easy task; however, after a year at the helm there are a few things I’ve learned and I’d like to share them with all of you!

First, TO ALL HIGH SCHOOL COACHES:

Help your student-athletes explore and take advantage of the opportunities out there. The biggest disappointment this year has been the athletes we have on-campus who want to join the team but can’t because of things that weren’t done right prior to starting college, and the biggest frustration I’ve had is with how many potential recruits and/or interested student-athletes (and/or their coaches, parents, etc) don’t take the steps to discover what their options are at the “next level” and end up hurting themselves or missing out on opportunities.

My suggestions? All coaches and parents should instruct their student-athletes to contact every school they might be interested prior to taking any further steps. Most, if not all, schools have interest forms, questionnaires or contact info on their athletics’ websites and that’s a great starting point; if a coach doesn’t respond to you, try again…every coach should at least do prospective recruits the courtesy of an email. Secondly,  and I can’t stress this enough, keep your options open AND help college coaches find you (and other student-athletes) by keeping your online profile updated. If you use a recruiting service, change your profile when you’ve committed. If you do commit, submit your signing status to sites like Milesplit, your local paper, your school’s Twitter/Facebook accounts, etc. so that coaches know, your future college gets publicity and so you can be recognized for your accomplishment! Thirdly, COMMUNICATE. If a coach reaches out to you, reply. Even if you’re not interested, trust me we’d rather know than wonder. This job isn’t easy; it gets harder when we can’t maximize our time and when we don’t know and have to ask, that’s time that could be better spent if we know what we need to know!

Next, TO ALL HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES:

YOU CAN DO THIS SPORT IN COLLEGE. Yes, ALL OF YOU can PARTICIPATE; MOST OF YOU can CONTRIBUTE and MANY OF YOU can SUCCEED/EXCEL AT IT. With SO MANY LEVELS and institutions that sponsor XC/T&F (NAIA, NJCAA, NCAA D1/D2/D3) there are nearly TOO MANY options for you, which means you SHOULD ASK FOR HELP making the decision! And here’s another “secret” for all of you potential college recruits: If we know about you, we can help you – and most of you would probably get some kind of help if you asked for it. I bet there’s a school out there for all of you, and based on the latest NCAA Participation Rates (see link below) there are a LOT of places that NEED YOUR HELP! We are all “fighting” for a VERY SMALL number of YOU. If more of you wanted to participate in college; if more of you knew you could participate in college and if more of you were encouraged to explore your options to do so, we would ALL BENEFIT from your involvement! Also, make sure you know what you need to do to be eligible to participate! NCAA requirements, SAT/ACT scores, GPA minimums, sliding scales…it all matters. Also, the “order of operations” for how the process goes is VERY IMPORTANT. As suggested above, contact the coach before you do ANYTHING and if a coach contacts you, ask them questions before you make any decisions. Some schools are VERY SPECIFIC in HOW the process must be completed and you can lose potential scholarships, grants, etc. by not following the process. COLLEGE IS EXPENSIVE. Why not make it less expensive? A few thousand dollars a year in athletic help may not seem like much with college costs where there are in the US, but even a little help could lead to a few months or even years sooner after you graduate to making a down payment on a house, buying an engagement ring, taking a nice vacation, or just breathing easier and not living from paycheck-to-paycheck, or in your parents’ basement for any longer than you have to!

NCAA PARTICIPATION RATES

Finally, TO MY COLLEGE COACHING PEERS:

We ALL need to work together to make this sport successful. We all have “responsibilities” to our admins, ADs, conferences, etc. but our biggest obligation is to provide student-athletes with the opportunity to succeed. Sure, many of us end up recruiting many of the same kids. Similar schools, similar locations, similar majors = difficult decisions. I can honestly say that the recruits we are getting are making good decisions for their situations and the ones who have chosen elsewhere are only a statistical loss for our program. I completely understand every “other choice” recruits have made so far. I’ve also directed some that I’ve spoken to “better fits” for them, even if it means “losing them” as a potential recruit. Is it a fault or a flaw? Perhaps. But not a moral or ethical one. I’d rather see a kid happy at a different school than unhappy at mine because I “had to get them.” If we ALL work TOGETHER we will all help each other succeed and we will help build the sport. If even 1% more HS athletes went on to participate in college XC/T&F, we’d all be better off. With proper guidance, they all will.

Coaching, for the most part, hasn’t changed. I try to give our student-athletes OPPORTUNITIES. To travel, to participate, to improve, to succeed, to excel. As a newer program, and with a new coaching staff, there are lots of opportunities here for athletes of all ability levels to get involved and I am 100% confident in saying that the more opportunities we all provide for these student-athletes (we meaning colleges, HS/Club coaches, guidance counselors, parents, advisors, etc.) the better the experience will be for all of us. If the WORST thing that happens is that some of these prep athletes TRY college sports and don’t like it, but get a good education and become contributing members of society, that’s a win. If they find a place they are happy, participate in the sport, contribute to a program, develop as young men/women and experience success socially, academically and in athletics so that they graduate ready to “take on the world” then there’s nothing better than that. I believe in the future of the sport; I believe in the future of this program and I plan on working at this until that future becomes the present. Let’s help each other make the future a bright one!

#SoarFalcons

#SoarWithUS

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#Boston2017forEKH

Check out the link below to learn more about my latest endeavor…and hopefully to donate!

https://www.gofundme.com/Boston2017forEKH

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Hambletonian Marathon…

Since the summer, my training has fallen under the hashtags #SMP & #HMP for “Secret Marathon Plan” & then “Hambletonian Marathon Plan” once I (un)officially decided to run. I say UNofficially because even though I’ve registered, trained and prepared for the race, I still can’t convince myself that it’s a good idea. Here’s why:

I have only officially run two marathons – Baltimore 2008 in 3:24 & NYC 2010 in 3:28. I also ran the entirety of the Boston course ahead of & with (and then behind) Meghan in 2009, which had me start about 30 mins before the gun on my own, wait for her at 15 and try to run with her to the finish. That didn’t work out so well. That’s a story for another day. But Baltimore was rough; then I trained for two years only for NYC to be WORSE. Needless to say, my self-confidence at 26.2 isn’t exactly sky-high. 

In the interim, I devoted myself to reading up on, learning about and writing training for marathoning. Had lots of ups and downs coaching people to do it,  but also got to help some friends and family achieve some incredible things. From massive PRs, to podium finishes, people I got to help did well. But I still couldn’t commit to doing another race. It actually took me almost all of the 5 years between NYC 2010 and today to even consider doing another – I essentially swore them off for good – and to be honest, this might legitimately be my last one FOR REAL (unless I BQ…)

So why now? Honestly? Four people. Meghan, whose success and prowess at the distance have proven to me that the system “works” & hard work DOES equal success on most occasions. Shanna, who trusted us with her friendship, trusted me with her training, impressed me with her success and whose late father, Bob, I met at the finish line of Hambletonian 2014. Kim, who every day during marathon training (this’ll be her first) essentially did something she’d never done before. Coach Marc, who got me in PR shape for a half LAST fall and whose training has me in the best shape of my life. 

Will it ACTUALLY happen? You’ll have to wait to find out on Sunday. Just know this – I’m only running if I think I’m 100% ready when the gun goes off. And if I do run, I’m going for it – but doing it the right way, unlike when I may have erred in my previous two-ish attempts. 

#HMP #SMP #teamDeCarlo #NJGarminRunners #theRidgewoodProject #trainwithMarc

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USATF NJ Meet

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Broad Street Lessons

Loving this math…I’m about 5 lbs over racing weight right now, about 8 lbs over ideal weight. Hard to PR carrying extra baggage…

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My “FIRST” College Meet…UPDATED!!!

So, some of you might know this…some might not, but I was a sprinter in high school. Well, to be fair, I became a sprinter after starting as a distance runner. I didn’t run anything longer than a mile during track season after my sophomore year, and actually WON State Sectionals in the 400m as a senior before moving on to Rider University. At Rider, my college running career lasted exactly one meet, where I ran a 4×4 leg at Princeton before my career ended unceremoniously. From there, I floundered for a bit, gave up on running, and got fat. Then I became a sprinter again, was briefly fast, then got fat again. Then, I (re)became a distance runner. Which leads me to the present…

I’ve run a lot of races. From the 55 to the marathon, I’ve done it all. I even added the 400h and experimented with the steeple recently. But when I run, it’s pretty local stuff. Open meets, community miles, local 5ks, etc. Other than my two marathons, and the couple of times we went to Vegas for the halves, I stay within myself. Even when we go to masters nationals, etc. it’s not that big of a deal – any of you could come with us, and probably do pretty well! But what I have NEVER done is run in an actual college/non-relay race, and that’s about to happen on Saturday!

This weekend, I am throwing myself to the wolves. Well, maybe the baby wolves. I entered the Lions Invitational at TCNJ in the 1500 for sure, and either the 400h or the 800m. I’m not “worried” per se about placing, because I’ll be in a heat with others around my seed time (except the 400h, where I’ll be the slowest and oldest dude) but I’m worried about not deserving to be there. I’m worried about being the old guy who thinks he can hang. I’m worried I’m not good enough and will look like an idiot. So how do I avoid that?

Run like a 38 year old, not an 18 year old. Proper pacing, smart moves, strong finish, trust my kick. And if it doesn’t go well, figure out why and try again! UPDATE: Due to the long day AND other obligations, I’ll ONLY be running the 1500m. Sorry for those who were hoping to enjoy my 400h skills lol. Next time…

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Rutgers Unite Half Marathon

My friend & teammate; my coach…awesome!

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