Changes in coaching staff for the track team


Mike Dykstra

The track and field team gathers together for stretching after practice.

Lily Hojnacki, Staff Writer

The spring sports season brings tryouts, excitement, and sometimes, changes in coaching.

Although he is by no means new to the track world, Michael Dykstra will be taking over as the girl’s head track coach this season. Dykstra has been assisting the last two years at East Grand Rapids High School, and used to be the varsity coach up until 2005.

“Mr. Putnam did a great job of transitioning in a last minute switch and having to patch the holes of everything. He did a nice job of figuring that out last year,” Dykstra said.

This year, Matthew Putnam will be taking the position of the boy’s track head coach.     

“Putnam and Dykstra are both amazing coaches, but I think that this year with Dykstra as the head coach, that will allow Putnam to focus more on the guys which is really important,” runner Eliza Loeks ‘19 said.

Coaches are a very important element to any sport and their guidance can be a key factor in improvement. “I think the best thing that a coach can do is push you to your limits, but at the same time be encouraging,” Loeks said.

The changes in coaching over the past year are something that the track team has had to adapt and adjust to, but most have not let the change throw them off their game.

“I think that the switch is not going to make a huge difference, Mr. Dykstra will make a good head coach. He’s had experience in coaching sprints for many years,” Hannah Bodine ‘21 said.

Regardless of the coach, Bodine thinks “the most helpful thing a coach can do is to encourage and give attention to each athlete on the team no matter how ‘good’ they are. This helps everyone feel like there is no special attention and like a part of the team which strengthens the team as a whole.”

Just as the upperclassman have had to adjust to the coaching switch, freshman runners coming from middle school coaching has brought a new dynamic to their training as well.

“It was definitely different switching from middle school to high school coaching because in middle school coaches weren’t as experienced,” Ainsley Workman ‘22 said. “But my coach in high school is really helpful all the time and definitely has a lot more experience coaching and running.”

“Also, in middle school the coaches switched around a lot so I never had the same coach for one season and now I have Coach Dan year-round which is a lot better than just for a season,” Workman continued.

The team is coming out of winter training strong, and looking good for their meets to come.

“I think we just want to try and build a team identity first, that’s hard to do in an individual type sports like track, really try to get to know each other, and work with each other, and try to get to the point where we’re racing for each other, and just building a community,” Dykstra said.

Although runners are not always competing as a team during track, the girls say they are most looking to run with their teammates again, and becoming closer and stronger as a team.

Team environment can make a huge difference in performance overall.

Dykstra said he is excited to take over as head coach again, “being responsible for the direction of that’s kind of exciting getting to know these kids a little bit more as leaders and helping them in that regard.”