Coaches Corner with Randy Bryan

11/29/2021 / Posted by Staff

1. Give us a background of how you got into coaching XC and/or Track & Field. Just understand that I am a storyteller, so crop this however you need to make it fit. I participated in multiple sports throughout high school in the 70s and 80s but track was secondary to basketball for me at that time. I thoroughly enjoyed it as a sprinter/jumper (especially sprint relays with my brother and two best friends) but it was in college that I fell in love with the sport. My advisor was Coach Don Dempsey and he suggested that I take coaching theory for more than one sport to make myself more flexible when interviewing for jobs. My classes for track and field were so enjoyable. Every person in class had to participate in each event to better learn proper technique plus we competed in a somewhat decathlon style scoring for the events. That provided me with a healthy respect for the work required to be proficient in each event. As part of these classes, we got to see the NAIA National Championship meets at Arkansas Tech University in back-to-back years. Wow! I was sold. Seeing those athletes just elevated my love for the sport. When I accepted the coaching position for basketball at Magazine, the track and field was assigned to me. In year one we finished last. Over the next 7 years we finished as District Runner Up 6 times and 3rd place once. We finally broke through in 97 and have won District 15 times in the last 21 years. That leads me to the cross country portion of the answer. In the late 90s, my fire to succeed was fueled by so many runner up finishes. I was attending clinics and Coach McDonnell would talk so much about distance runners so in 98 I began the cross country program at Magazine. It took us until 2002 to win a District title and we have won 17 more since then. Those distance runners have been one of the key ingredients to our District and State Championships over the years. 2. What inspires you to continue coaching the sport? Multiple things inspire me to continue. Working with kids, impacting kids, those kids coming back as adults or communicating with me years later to share their lives with me, seeing an athlete go from point A to point Z in 6 years with me, and so many more. I would be lying if I didn't say that I also enjoy the challenges and the success. I believe ABC Wide World of Sports used to mention the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. My fire still burns white hot. But the kids are the reason. 3. Give us a memory that has stuck with you through the years. My first state champion to coach was Jeremy Wortham in high jump back in 1993. My daughter Courtney was just a baby but we took her to meets every year including that one in Eureka Springs. I even held her in my arms working meets when she was really young. Well, track and field is very big in my family. Courtney just took to it. She won so many medals and ribbons all through the elementary years. She earned All-Conference honors all six years in junior high and senior high setting district and school records along the way. However, the highlight for me was her senior year. Courtney was the only girl on the senior high team as a freshman and again as a sophomore. She had qualified for state three straight years and scored in discus twice going into her senior year. She told me she was going to win it that year. She lifted, trained daily all year long. She would throw during the athletics period. She would take 25 to 50 throws at home daily as well. Each day ended with the words, “Just one more…”. She entered state ranked #3. My best male thrower kept telling me for weeks that Courtney was going to win it, that her technique was perfect and her consistency was unmatched. Truer words were never spoken. On that cool morning at Ft. Smith Southside, we got to celebrate as Courtney became Magazine’s first recorded female state champion. She also led our team to the first district title for any Lady Rattler team in track and field and a fourth place finish at state. Truly great moments for any father getting to coach their daughter. 4. What differences have you seen in the program since you've been HC? A. Numbers. We averaged 7 kids a year in those early years and very few girls at all over the first 20 years. B. A track. From the 80s until 2010, we had no track. The school built a 367-meter cinder track in 2010. C. Equipment. Various schools from Danville to Booneville, to El Dorado to Dardanelle have donated or sold us equipment over the years. We had none before 2003. D. Culture for winning. When the kids come back and visit, one thing many of them mention is that they expected to win. Such was not the case in those early years. E. Community. We are a very small rural community and track and field/cross country were almost cult sports and unknown to our folks for the first 7 or 8 years. Now everyone in our community knows about it and has expectations. 5. What's your take on the direction of High School XC and/or Track & Field in Arkansas? I believe cross country has grown tremendously and continues to grow. When I started, it was difficult to find any meets within 2 hours of Magazine. Now, we have meets in nearly every surrounding community plus multiple homes meets a year. Track and Field goes up and down from year to year. I understand but don't like that we have such a short season and end while it is still cooler weather*. We don't have time to truly develop some of our kids who are multiple sport athletes (I am not a believer in specialization, especially not until senior year.). I wish we still had an indoor season where we went to Fayetteville, to Searcy, to Fayetteville, to Searcy, and then State at Fayetteville with a possible invite to Jonesboro from year to year. Covid did some damage but I am hopeful that the Olympics will put us back to where we were before Covid hit. Coaching (boys and girls) – 1988-2019, 2021 (32 years as of now) Crawfordsville 1988-89, Magazine 1989-present 3-Time State Champions 2012, 2014, 2019 (Indoor) 2-time State Runners-up 2010, 2011 7-time 3rd place at State: 1999, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2019 3-time 4th place finish at State: 2000, 2004, 2011 (10-time semifinalist) 8-time top 8 finishes at State: 1997, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017, 2018 (8-time quarterfinalist) 60 Conference Championships (boys and girls) (42 T&F/18 CC)

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