BOGACZYK: New Track Assistant Coleman Finally Makes It `Home'
The Word on the Herd-August 17, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – As a three-time West Virginia high school track and field champion from Harrison County, Travis Coleman might have considered keeping his talents in-state and signing with Marshall to continue his weight-throwing career.
There was one problem … In 2006, when the then-West Milford resident was graduating from Robert C. Byrd High in Clarksburg, the Herd didn’t have a men’s track team anymore.
It wasn’t alone.
“When I was at Byrd, I guess during my sophomore year, it seems like within a month of each other West Virginia and Marshall both dropped their men’s track and field teams,” Coleman said Friday. “I didn’t want to stay in-state for Division II.
“I wanted Division I. My brother (R.J. Coleman) had gone to Ohio State for football (as a tight end in 2002) and that was kind of the dream, so I just started looking outside the state and ended up going to Winthrop.”
Fast forward eight years, and Coleman finds himself at Marshall after all. He was recently hired as the throwing coach for the Herd women’s program.
“It’s definitely a homecoming, a nice change,” said Coleman, 26, who joins the Herd after two years as an assistant at Georgia State, where he had multiple throwers set GSU records in 2012-13 and ’13-14..
He joins two veterans -- Herd Coach Jeff Small and assistant Don Yentes -- on the MU staff, just as the track and field program is about to benefit from the pending opening of the Indoor Athletic Facility that will be home to a 300-meter, eight-lane track.
“I am so excited to have Travis Coleman join our coaching staff at Marshall,” Small said. “I have followed his career as both a high school athlete in West Virginia and as a collegiate thrower at Winthrop.
“He did a great job as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, then went on to a record setting stint as the throws coach at Georgia State. He has an awesome personality, is a very energetic and motivated coach who I know will do great things with our throwers at Marshall.”
At Winthrop, Coleman competed for four years, then took a redshirt season for his senior year. That enabled him to get into coaching, and he spent two years on the Eagles’ track staff as a graduate assistant while getting his masters to follow an undergraduate degree in family and consumer sciences.
He had a chance to learn the coaching ropes in what he called “win-win” since his scholarship money paid for graduate school.
At Marshall, “I’ll help with whatever Jeff and Don need, (schedule) travel, if they need a driver, but I’ll work with the throwers predominantly,” Coleman said. “I’ll also do the vertical jumps, the high jump, pole vault. We all pitch in when it comes to the multis. Jeff takes the distance side of it, I work on high jump and throws, and Don takes care of the sprints and hurdles.”
Coleman won the Group AAA state title in the discus and shot put as a RCB junior in 2005, then repeated in the shot as a senior, when he also took second in the discus. Those seasons were interrupted by a broken leg that curbed his senior football season and limited his throwing, too.
The Herd throwers will learn soon that Coleman will be looking for results more than any mastery of techniques.
“I approach things a little differently than most throwing coaches, I guess,” said Coleman, a six-time (indoor and outdoor) All-Big South Conference pick at Winthrop. “It probably comes from my counseling background. It’s one thing they teach you … and that’s you can’t treat every kid the same.
“So, there are some coaches that follow a strict technique -- this is what I do, this is how I teach it. And I kind of learned my (throwing) coach at Winthrop (Brett Best), that a kid comes in with a certain set of skills and we kind of mold the skills and technique together to make a hybrid – as close to what I want as possible, but it’s still comfortable for them and gets the results.
“I’m not one of these throwers’ coaches who is very intense. It’s very much, ‘Hey you do this really well, so let’s maximize it. You did this very poorly, so let’s find a way to minimize that so it doesn’t affect your throw as much.”
Coleman has been where the Herd throwers undoubtedly want to go – the NCAA. He was a two-time NCAA regionals qualifier at Winthrop and still holds Eagles’ records in the shotput (indoor and outdoor) and the hammer throw.
“In the throw, there are a few key things you have to do to get the end result,” Coleman said when asked to explain his approach to his new job. “It’s not always going to look the same and it might not always be pretty, but as long as they do those key things, things will go far and that’s kind of what I follow.
“I have three or four key things in each throw … It’s like, ‘Hey, if we can master these few things, it doesn’t have to be absolutely gorgeous; it will get refined as you get older and when you get more used to it. But if you can do those 3-4 things, then you’re going to have great results.
“You can’t be cookie-cutter. Everyone is different.”
Coleman said another coaching mentor is one of Yentes’ former athletes at Wyoming, Bobbie Schreiner. She is Winthrop’s associate head coach.
“Bobbie taught me a lot of the operations stuff and some things about jumps,” the new Herd assistant said. “She kind of encouraged me to break out of the box and said, ‘Why don’t you take some of the stuff you learned in jumping and apply it to throwing on a different mindset?’ And I’ve done that.
“I’ve kind of taken that and run with it, and developed my own coaching philosophy, I guess.”