|Walter Curry, head
track and field coach, says he loves to make a difference in his
Track Coach Teaches Students about the Hurdles in Life
|Q: When did you
become the head menís and womenís 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 partĖtime 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
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 Ďsuperstarí but my name is still on the top 10
list in the hurdle events. And itís been a while since I graduated.
Q: Why did you decide ultimately to become a track coach? Is your position
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
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 OíBrien. 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
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 schoolís dance team. I coach my oldest
sonís 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
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
donít like what youíre doing, once you are finished with it, you donít have
to do it again.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection