Friday, June 28, 2013

Stepping Down as CHS Coach

It is with sincere sadness that I am telling everyone that I am stepping down as a coach at Chaparral HS. I met with Coach Bowman this morning, and I told him that I simply cannot coach to the level that I think the position demands. I want to see my family more, I want to be able to dedicate more to my science teaching, and I want to be able to pursue some personal goals I have. I feel coaching is a service to the athletes, and if a coach cannot dedicate themselves fully and give the best service possible, than that opportunity should be given to someone else. I am sure Coach Bowman and the administration at Chaparral will find a coach who is ten times better than me, and that is a good thing. The athletes who commit themselves to distance track deserve only the best.

I thought about coaching in a reduced role, whether it was as a JV developmental coach, or dropping down to 2 days a week, or only going to half of the meets, and I realized it just wouldn't work for a couple of reasons. One, distance kids need a full time coach, it is just the nature of distance running.  Two, I could never do something only halfway. Over the years, I have turned head/distance coaching into a seven day a week affair. Even on Sundays, I would spend 3 hours crunching training numbers, prepping for the upcoming week, working on administrative stuff. I am no different from the head coaches at Castle Rock or ThunderRidge, or anywhere else, it is what it is. But, it just got to be too much for me to be able to handle. If I was single with no kids, it would be a different story. To be honest though, at this phase of my life, I would rather be out on the ski trails with Chloe than sitting in front of a computer screen trying to make sure the Wednesday interval sessions would be absolutely perfect. As I said before, I truly feel if I cannot offer that level of dedication and commitment to a group of dedicated and committed athletes, than I should not be the coach.

I want to say thanks to all of the coaches I have worked with over the years, everyone has taught me so much. Mr. Thompson, thanks for supporting me and having my back all these years. Coach Hawk, thanks for giving an unknown smartass a chance ten years ago to coach at a bigtime 5A school. Coach Thomas, thanks for giving me a whole new perspective on how to coach kids. Coach Bowman, thanks for turning this program into the powerhouse it is today. Thanks Coach Boymel, for bringing so many new ideas to my brain. Thanks Coach Maroney, for being not only one of my best friends, but the one guy I trust explicitly with everything I do. Mrs. Whipple, thanks for helping me with anything and everything under the sun. You made my life infinitely easier, and I am eternally grateful for that. Coach Laster, thanks for simply being the best distance coach out there. We did a lot together my friend, maybe someday in the future we can do it all again. And thanks to the incredible coaching staff I have gotten to work with the past few years. Harris, Able, Lib, Hartman, Bowman, Hawk, and Maroney, that is the best coaching staff in CHS T&F history, hands down. Everyone had each other's backs and everyone made sure the athlete was put first. Just an awesome staff that I am so sad to leave.  I can honestly say that every coach I worked with was an excellent coach, and it was an honor to stand next to them on Saturdays.

Of course, I also want to thank all of the athletes who I have gotten the chance to train. From the seniors way back in 2003 to the super fast freshman class this past spring, it has been a dream come true to be able to work with all of you, and the experience of the past ten years has made me into such a better person. It is winning I will miss the most, not just winning state titles though. When you guys would win any race, whether it was varsity, JV or time trial; when you would set new PR's; when you would qualify for State; when you would slingshot someone to get them at the line; when you would do that one extra interval on a Monday practice; when you would come back to the high school in the dark because you just did your longest overdistance run of the year, that is "winning". Going above and beyond what you thought possible, being a part of that and witnessing that; that is what I will miss the most. It's cliche, but I hope I taught you all that losing is simply not an option. If you play, you must strive to win. You won't win every time, for sure, but when you do win, it is the best feeling in the world. It makes all the hard work and sacrifice worth it. Thanks for giving me those thrills everyone, I treasure those feeling and memories so so much.

I am sad to leave, but I know this is for the best for everyone involved. I wish everyone reading this a successful cross country season, and an even better spring track season. Stay in touch, I will still be coaching the little kids back at Sierra, so if you are ever in the neighborhood, come on by and say "hi".



Sunday, May 19, 2013

End of Season Wrap Up

It has been 167 blog postings since we started this whole track season thing way back at the beginning of October. I think we had a very successful season, but man, what a long strange trip it's been.  From shoveling the track to flying to Florida, from getting hailed out at League Champs to running up Green Mtn., from indoor meets in Boulder to twilight meets in Pueblo, from pre-dawn 500m repeats to "suns out, guns out" 60F+ days; this season has been a wonderful journey for me. The effort matters more than any of the results, and I can say without hesitation that the work put in by everybody involved with this program was second-to-none.  For that, I can look back on this year and be proud. Be proud of all the work the athletes and coaches put in, and be proud that we did everything we could to make ourselves the best runners we could be. Unless you take risks in life, you are never truly alive. I feel that this program did everything possible to become better racers, and I have no regrets at all looking back.

I meet a lot of coaches over the season, some good ones, some not so good ones. I sometimes wonder how these other coaches would fit in on our staff. It is not with false modesty that I say I would rather have our coaches over anyone else in the state. I think we have the best coaching staff in Colorado, I think that this coaching staff gets the best out of every single athlete, and I am eternally grateful to all of them for all the hard work and time they put into this program. Without Lib, Tessa, Abes, Hawk, Harris, Bowman and Jimmy, CHS T&F would be a dumpster fire, so huge thanks and gratitude go out to them.

I wish a fond farewell to all of the seniors who have been the backbone of the program for the last four years. This was an excellent group of kids to work with, and I know they will be doing some pretty impressive things, both on and off the track, in the coming years. I sincerely hope they keep in touch, if nothing more than for them to whip me in some mountain trail races.   Remember, a boomerang that doesn't come back is just a stick, as they say. I am also very excited for our underclassmen in the coming years. We have some great young talent on this team, and even though we are losing a lot to graduation, I think we will still be very strong next year. Maybe even stronger than this year.

Wow that three day State Meet is a grind, isn't it? It started for Coach Bowman & I on Wednesday night, and we loaded up the truck to fight traffic home Saturday around 6:00. In-between was a up and down meet, but overall I was very pleased with the effort and results.  I think there are some things we can do better next year to perform at this meet, and I think we did some things very well. No regrets, no complaints from me, and Jimmy likes to say, it is a process. I think our growth as a team and the path we are continuing down is a very positive one.

It is a tough job keeping up with all of the results from four events all year, but I don't think anything slipped through the cracks. As much as I try to stress that your effort matters more than your results, track is a numbers based sport. That is how we determine who is better than someone else. I believe if you posted our season bests against any other teams seasons bests, there is a pretty good chance we would come out on top. The men and the women both had great results from top to bottom this year, and that is due 100% to all the hard work these athletes put in over the course of seven months. Everyone on these lists should be very proud of themselves. I have also updated the Top 9 list. We have a lot of "2013" that crept onto that list this year, which is really fantastic.

Now summer training begins. I strongly suggest to everyone reading this blog to run cross country at the high school level. Running XC gives all track athletes a great base on which to build winter intervals on. Even if you don't see yourself as a 5km runner, "suffering" through XC can make you a much stronger track star, especially in the month of May. A couple years ago, I put together a restaurant style menu of workouts for your summer training. It is a choice based program, one that you must be very self motivated to stick with. This program is designed to get you stronger and ready to race in the fall, not for winning the Georgetown Half Marathon in August. Check it out, use what you want from it, but most of all, stick with it. Results will not appear overnight, it will only be when school starts up again that you notice how much faster and stronger you are.

This week, Coach Bowman and I will start the mundane end-of-year tasks of cleaning out the cube and the cage. If you still have your uniform or your windsuit, please do to the schoolhouse and return those to Bowman as soon as possible. As in, on Monday. Put your clean uniform and windsuit in a plastic shopping bag, make sure your name and grade are clearly written on the bag, and personally deliver it to Coach Bowman. Those $90 uniforms and $140 windsuits are needed for next year, so please return them back to the program. Rocking your high school track uniform on your new college campus makes you a real loser, as we all know. We will also need some help this week, putting away the pole vault pits, storing the high jump pits, organizing the hurdles, and generally cleaning out the cube. We will let the underclassmen know when we are doing this, and the coaches could really use some help that day. Thanks in advance for that one.

My plans for the summer? Unplug from the track scene and decompress for a couple weeks. I suggest all the athletes do that as well. The Seppala family will be taking some trips this summer. back east for a couple weeks, up to the mountains as much as possible. I want to get in a good summer of running with Chloe and Reid as well, and I still gotta get those sprinklers going. Even though I will be traveling a lot, keep in touch. I would love to go on some trail runs with anyone, and maybe we can sneak in a Red Rocks stairs session. Just let me know, and we can try to connect.

Finally, a sincere thanks to everyone that helped make this program as successful as it has become. We are a presence now in the track community, other teams know that when Chaparral shows up, they are in for a fight. Everyone from administration to the trainers, from all of the awesome supportive parents to all of the generous people in the business community, all of the athletes and all of the coaches; everyone contributes mightily to the success of this team. I sincerely thank everyone who is on our side, we couldn't do it without you. Thanks.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Letter of Thanks

Mr Stairs emailed me last night, he was so happy with all the hard work the CHAP athletes put into the middle school meets the past couple of days. Read below.

Chaparral Track Team, 

Thank you for coming out and supporting Sierra's track program!  It was great to see several of you promoting track and field and sharing your knowledge with our athletes.  They certainly look up to you all as role models. Thank you for your tremendous help in timing, running the jumps, and cleaning up after the meet. Keep us in mind next year.  We will need the help again.  Good luck to you all at state this weekend!  Go Chap!!!


Chris Stairs
SMS Athletic Director

This is the kind of stuff that is super important. Giving back to the track and field community is a big deal, and representing Chaparral in this positive light is even bigger. The middle school championships are on Friday at 3:15 at the stadium in Parker. If anyone (athlete or adult) wants to help out there, just shoot Mr. Stairs an email, he would love to have the help. Great job by everyone!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Happy Birthday Chloe!

This tweet brought back some happy memories of today.

tell Chloe happy birthday from me! I hope you guys have a nice day

Quite a haul
It was four years ago today that my lovely daughter Chloe was born. We had chocolate chip pancakes and opened presents this morning.  It was the perfect way to start they day. Happy birthday, Clo, I love you!

It was also this day four years ago that Alex, Taylor, Nate and Johnny won a state title in the 4x800. I was lucky enough to get there about 20 minutes before the race started. I had been up all night with Beth (who was the real MVP of that day), and I will never forget seeing Coach Jared Neale before the race. He immediately hugged me and congratulated me on Chloe's birth (everyone knew where I was) and I replied, "We haven't won anything yet!" Ugh. What was I thinking??

Anyways, I can only hope for half of as successful day this week.  If all our guys run their best races, we got a shot. And I truly believe they got that in them. So does the birthday girl.


State Championship Schedule

I wish I could be as fancy as Coach Whitenack with his embedded pdf files, but I gotta go old school on this post. Just typing it all out by hand, but I think I will get the information across.

The meet is being held up at Jefferson Country Stadium. This is located at 6th Ave and Kipling.  It is about 30 minutes away from Chaparral HS with no traffic. However, on I-25, there is no such thing as no traffic, so please give yourself plenty of time to get there, at least an hour, in my estimation.

We will have set up our camp in the SE corner of the complex, inside the fence. When you arrive, call me to gt your athlete pass. Please try to arrive as a group so we can give you the athlete passes all at once. Nothing is more frustrating for a coach to have to keep running back to the NE entrance to deliver passes to get in on the day of a big meet.

The meet is spread over three days. The first day is Thursday, and we have:

Pole Jump - 8:30 am - Nolan
100m Prelims - 8:50 - Alek - Heat 1
3200m Finals - 9:10 - Dominic
400m Prelims - 11:00 - Alek - Heat 2
Discus Finals - 11:00 - Jenny - Flight 2
4x800m Finals - 11:35 - James, Johnny, Ryan, Devin (Dom & Trav)
200m Prelims - 12:50 - Alek - Heat 3 (tie for 18th, three heats total)

Friday's schedule:
4x100 Prelims - 9:30 am - Katrina, Jenna, Katie & Olivia - Heat 2 / Austin, Spencer, Drew & Javon - heat 2
High Jump - 10:30 - Katrina
300H Prelims - 10:55 - Jenna - Heat 1
800m Finals - 12:50 - Devin
4x400 Prelims - 4:10 - Dane, Ryan, Devin, Alek (Johnny & Drew) - Heat 1

Saturday's schedule:
100m Finals - 10:30 - Alek?
400m Finals - 11:30 - Alek?
200m Finals - 1:40 - Alek?
300H Finals - 2:00 - Jenna?
4x100 Finals - 3:35 - Katrina, Jenna, Katie & Olivia? / Austin, Spencer, Drew & Javon
1600m Finals - 4:00 - James & Dominic
4x400 Finals - 5:10 - Dane, Ryan, Devin, Alek (Johnny & Drew)?

When you look at it this way, we got a lot of kids going to State, which is pretty awesome. I can say I achieved 1/2 of my goal. We got boys in all the track events (100/200/400/800/1600/3200) plus 3/4 of the relays (4x1/4x4/4x8), now we just gotta get some girls running in these events. Next year for sure we will get some in, I am confident of that.

Easy day at practice today, psych up day tomorrow, race like the wind on Thursday. I can't wait!


Monday, May 13, 2013

League Championship Thanks

I would remiss if I did not give a huge shout out to all of the people who helped us host the League Championship meet this past weekend. It turned into a three day affair, with the weather wiping out all of the prep work that we did Thursday morning. However, with the help of everyone, we pulled off a great prelim meet on Friday afternoon, and an excellent championship round on Saturday.

With out the help of everyone in the hip number garage, the volunteers out on the field lining up the athletes for heats, the folks who ran the concession stands, the people in the press box, the coaches running the field events, the race timers at the finish line, the JV athletes who ran stairs all day with results, the teachers who sold tickets at the gate, and of course, everyone who helped clean up afterwards; the meet would have been a disaster. We pride ourselves on how efficiently we run a meet, and this weekend was a great example of that.

So, without naming each and every peson who helped (as I know I would leave out someone), I say "THANK YOU" from the bottom of my heart. I am very, very appreciative.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

League Championship Thoughts

-Coming in second by 1/2 of a point on the men's side is a bitter pill to swallow, even after many hours of ruminating on it. But, there is no disputing that the results we posted were excellent. Three weeks ago, after Liberty Bell, if someone had told me we would come in second at League, I would have been ecstatic. Today's results make me very proud of all the hard work the athletes have put in.

-The women, who came in 7th out of twelve teams in our super competitive league should be proud of themselves as well. They worked just as hard as the men, and they had a great showing up these championships as well.

-We had mucho league champions, which gets your picture up on the wall in the building after you graduate. Girls 4 x 1, Boys 4 x 8, Girls High Jump, Boys Two Mile, Boys 400 and Boys 800. That's pretty impressive. I am very proud of that.

-This is over, and now we get to prepare for State Championships. CHSAA will release the heat sheets later on this afternoon, but right now we are looking at quite a few people practicing this week. Practice is closed to only State Meet participants this week, as we need to really be able to focus and prepare for this meet.  Line-ups and schedule will be forthcoming later today, but right now, I really gotta get some sleep.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

League Champs Heat Sheets

The heat sheets for Cont. League Champs are out. I have gone through and highlighted each CHAP entry.

Click on the link below to get a closer look at them.

The biggest thing I get from heat sheets is not the competition, but rather how much time/how many heats we have before our events so we can time our warm-up correctly.

Continental League Heat Sheets


Community Service, Sierra MS & JV Athletes

On May 13th and May 14th, Sierra MS is hosting two middle school track meets. They will be at Sierra track, after school, and they usually get done at 6:30. I am hoping there are some JV athletes who are finished for the season who would be willing to help out at their old alma mater.

The Sierra track coaches need help with field events, timing and general track meet management. They are also willing to sign off on community service hours, which is a graduation requirement at CHS.

This is a great way to give back to the local track & field community, help out the next generation of track & field athletes, and get some of that community service out of the way. Please let me know if you can help, and I will forward that onto the Sierra coaches.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

League Championship Entries

Below are the League Championship Line-ups for Chaparral Track & Field.

2013 Cont. League CHS T&F Entries

As usual, show up 90 minutes before your first race, give yourself plenty of time to warm up and compete well!


Monday, May 6, 2013

Updated Season Bests (5/6/13)



Just for transparencies sake, here are the distance kids season bests up to this point. I try and fill out the League Championship line-ups based on who is running fastest right now  but I also take into account seniors, and who ran at JV championships. Hopefully I can get line-ups for this championship race out early tomorrow morning. But for now, enjoy your new season bests! Looks like a lot of kids were running the fastest at the end of the season, which is really great news!


Dave Sonka

Cpl. David Sonka

Dave Sonka was a former student and classmate of mine. He was killed in action serving our country this weekend in Afghanistan.

While I feel pretty numb right now, I can tell you this. Dave was a smart kid, a hard working competitive runner with a great sense of wit and humor. I remember all the shenanigans he and his cronies (Ethan, Jack, etc) would all get into; going on long runs with him on the Cherry Creek trail, before the new bridge was put in; Dave racing his brains out at JV meets. I remember him being a great representative of what Chaparral stood for.

I am very honored to say that this brave man was a Wolverine runner. I thank him for serving our country, and hope his family finds some solace knowing he died defending our freedoms.

Thanks Sonka,


Sunday, May 5, 2013

League Champs Schedule

Below is the official League Championships schedule for this weekend.

Line-ups will be posted Tuesday night.

The meet will be held at the big stadium down in Parker.

If the weather is poor on Thursday, we will move Thursdays events to Friday.

We will not run ahead of schedule, to ensure proper rest for the athletes.

All events are finals on Saturday. Multiple heats for relays and distance events, one single heat for an events that had prelims on Thursday.

As I mentioned at the BBQ on Saturday, we needs as much help as we can get formt eh CHS T&F family and friends  If you can help out on those two days in any way, that would be much appreciated. We pride ourselves on running a smooth efficient event, and that is all due to the volunteers we get helping us out.

Please shoot me an email, bseppala19[at]gmail[dot]com , and I can communicate with you on what we need.

Thanks so much, and hope to see lots of folks out supporting us this weekend. This is what we have been working all winter towards, time to step it up!


State Rankings - 5/5/13

May 5th Rankings

Here are the up-to-date state rankings leading into League Championships.

This will help coaches set the line-ups for League Champs, as we have two goals. Win the League title as well as put kids in the best spot to get one last chance to qualify for State.

League Champs Schedule coming soon.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Updated Pueblo Schedule

This is the latest information from the meet director. Please read carefully, there are a few small, but important changes.

12:30 – Coaches Meeting, south end of track - I know a few of you are coming for distance events only. The main thing you need to know is the schedule below. We won't start 1600s before 7 PM. Arrive in plenty of time for kids to warm up, however.

Afternoon Session - boys heats will precede girls heats to provide some space between SMR8s and girls 100s
1:00 - SMR8 (girls only)
1:15 - 100s
1:50 - 100H/110H
2:30 - 4x200
2:50 - 800 (three heats per gender)
3:20 - 4x100
3:40 - 400
4:15 - 300H
4:50 - 4x800 (two heats boys, one heat girls)
5:35 - 200
6:00 - Break (time to visit concessions, buffer if afternoon events run a little late)

Evening Session - we may move through this session slightly ahead of schedule, time schedule given is an approximation. We will do introductions of top heat for each gender for both 1600s and 3200s
7:00 - 1600
     Girls Heat 1
     Boys Heat 1
     Girls Heat 2
     Boys Heat 2
     Girls Heat 3
     Boys Heat 3
8:00 - 4x400 (2 heats per gender, girls heats first, then boys heats)
8:25 - 3200 
     Girls Heat 1
     Boys Heat 1
     Girls Heat 2
     Boys Heat 2

Field Events:

1 PM Start - Boys PV, TJ, SP, Girls DT, LJ, HJ

3:45 PM Start - Boys DT, LJ, HJ, Girls PV, TJ, SP

There will be a parking fee for close-in parking for anyone except school vehicles and coaches. Try to let your parents know.

I have one other request. I know there are a lot of parents coming down to watch the meet. If those parents could help the team out by bringing some healthy snacks, that would be really awesome. Each parent does not have to feed the entire squad, but if each CHS car could snag one bag of tangerines, or one box of granola bars, or one canister of powdered gatorade, etc, etc. that would be really huge. When you get here, you can just drop it off at camp, or with a coach. I do not know this stadium lay-out at all, so I do not know where our team camp will be, but we will make sure the athletes get all the nutritious, full-of-energy food you bring. Parents might not be able to be in the camp with the kids, and that's OK, but any help you can give us in that area would be great!


P.S. Sorry about the big white formatting block. I am working on this from my phone, and the copy/paste feature is making some background mistakes. I hope it still readable and clear.