Although their accomplishments play a huge part, a lot of the work actually goes on behind the scenes, as a virtual army of coaches take careful time and planning to help bring out the best performances possible on the day of a meet.
“Saying that we’re meticulous (as a coaching staff) about what we do is an understatement,” said Marietta coach Nick Houstoulakis, the 2014 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Boys Track and Field Coach of the Year. “We are very prepared, very structured. We have a plan for every day for every group.
“We’re fortunate to have enough coaches to where every area — field events, distance, hurdles, sprints, relays — everything is covered every day by a different coach. We’re all in-sync with kids who have field events, and then they have to come over and do hurdles or jumps and sprints, and we have a formula and we all stick to that formula. We’re all prepared if we have a certain kid for 45 minutes, and then that kid is going to come over and do something else for 45 minutes. We’re very structured in what we do. That comes from offseason preparation.”
Houstoulakis’ 12-member staff had to adjust to losing a lot of top athletes from last year’s team, and it took time for the Blue Devils to get up and running following the losses. Injuries and inclement weather also played a part.
“We had a very young group coming back this year, and only five of those guys were seniors,” Houstoulakis said. “We started slow early on. We had some extended days in school because of the weather, and that threw us off, so we had a slow start to the year.
“We had injuries early on, but right around Cobb County time was when we were able to put our full team on the track, and those kids flourished. They were outstanding. Then, we took it to the region meet, where we were able to take care of business there, and on to sectional.”
Marietta captured the county championship and went on to claim its seventh straight and 16th overall region title. Five individuals and one relay team advanced to the Class AAAAAA state meet, where the Blue Devils fell short of their goal, placing 19th with 12 points.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t perform the way we wanted to at the state meet, but those kids set a great foundation for the year, and the year after,” Houstoulakis said.
Despite the end result, Houstoulakis credits his staff for all its hard work in helping to make Marietta’s track and field team a success.
“The chemistry amongst (the coaches) is phenomenal,” he said. “We have to work well together in order to make this work. We have over 125 kids, both boys and girls, and we have the middle-schoolers. We’re fortunate to have middle-school track, both seventh and eighth grade, so we have about 180 kids on the track between the 12 of us. But it’s working, because we all work our tails off to make sure that we’re prepared for it.”
Houstoulakis shares the coach of the year award with his staff.
“It’s more than an honor,” he said. “I would say that it’s a reflection of our staff. It’s a huge honor, because these guys work hard. Our kids overachieved this year. We’re very young, so any time you’re recognized for what you do, it’s humbling, and it’s a special honor. It really is, because our staff works incredibly hard at what they do. It’s very structured and very meticulous at what they do, so (the award is) a reflection on those guys, really.”