Track Coach

USATF Contents for TC239


2022 Emerging Female Coaching Grants Available — Apply Now

The Emerging Female Grant is provided by USATF and provides a select number of minority, women track and field coaches the opportunity to attend USATF Coaching Education Level 1 or 2 Schools. Grants are valued at the respective course tuition or registration fee.


• Be a minority, female coach

• Be a current member of the USATF Coaches Registry

• Provide a resume of coaching background/experience

• Provide a letter of recommendation or three references

Applications for Emerging Female Grants are accepted on a rolling basis until funds are expended. Applications are reviewed on the first (business) day of each month must be received a minimum of 30 days prior to the start date of the requested program/school. Grants cannot be awarded retroactively.

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2022 National Championship Mentorship Grants Available — Apply Now

This unique mentorship program provides an up close and personal experience of the strategies, meet prep, mental preparation, and “in the moment” coaching for an emerging elite coach in a chosen event. The grant recipient will shadow one of USATF’s Master coaches through the rounds and final of a chosen event in Eugene, OR at the 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships, June 23-26. A group administrator will lead sessions after each round to discuss the grant recipients’ experiences. Applications are due no later than May 8, 2022.


• A coach cannot have an athlete competing during the designated dates of the Mentorship.

• Must be a current head or assistant coach with a minimum of 5 years’ experience

• Has coached an athlete at the USATF Outdoor Championships, U20 Championships, NCAA Championships or State High School Association Championships in the last five years

• USATF Level 2 Coaching Education certificate (in any of the event disciplines) is preferred

• Member of the USATF Coaches Registry.

• Two paragraph position statement on the value of attending the mentorship, submitted with application.

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Save 20% on online USATF Campus courses through May 31, 2022

For a limited time, save 20% on select USATF Campus courses (course bundles, Basic Principles of Endurance Training, and Level 2 Sports Science are excluded). Use promo code TrackCoach20 through May 31, 2022, to take advantage of this offer.

USATF Campus offers over ten specialized sports science courses curated by Dr. Christine Brooks, Level 2 Sports Science Coordinator, and Instructor of High Performance at the University of Florida. Each course is self-paced, packed with 3-4 hours of video lectures, resources, quizzes, and includes a USATF certificate of completion. All courses in the catalog are open to both USATF members and non-members.

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Verify Your Standing on the USATF Coaches Registry for the Outdoor Season

Don’t be caught off-guard at 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships with a lapsed USATF Coaches Registry requirement. Members must be current with all USATF Coaches Registry requirements to receive a coach credential at USATF Championships. Members may verify their status by querying the public list with their name. A member whose name is not listed on the public Coaches Registry List should login to their membership profile on USATF Connect to remedy the lapsed requirement(s). A green, current status must be displayed under each individual requirement (Membership, Center for SafeSport Training, Background Screening and Coach Certifications). All requirements must be current through the last date of competition to qualify for a registered coach credential. In addition, members must be listed on the club profile and/or designated by declared athlete during the specified USATF Championship. Please be advised US Center for SafeSport Training is now an every 365-day requirement and NCSI background screens are valid for two years from date of acceptance.

If you have not logged into your membership profile since USATF Connect launched (May 2020), you must first recover your account (click Recover Account button) on the login page to begin the process.

Public Coaches Registry List

USATF Coaching Education Instructor Spotlight

An interview with Scott Christensen, Head Coach, Stillwater High School (MN)

Scott Christensen

Scott Christensen is a 17-year USATF lead instructor for the Level 2 Program (Endurance) and a highly sought clinician across the U.S. Christensen is also a lead instructor for the USATF Cross Country Specialist Course and a regular Level 1 instructor. He has led Stillwater High School to national top 10 rankings eight times since 1995. Four Stillwater alumni have gone on to break 4:00 in the mile after leaving his program. Christensen was a 2003 USA Junior Team Leader and 2008 USA National Team Leader at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships. He is a past chairman of the USATF Coaching Education Executive Committee and was re-appointed to the committee in 2021 as the physiology lead. Christensen was honored with the 2020 Kevin McGill Legacy Award for his passion and initiative in coaching education across his career.

MR: Scott, thank you for agreeing to be a part of our second feature. Why don’t you start by telling us how you got started in coaching.

SC: My personal story on how I first got into running and then coaching is pretty simple without much drama. On the last day of school of my 9th grade year, my science teacher who I really liked, stopped me, and asked if I would be interested in joining the high school cross country team the following fall. I did not even realize he was a coach at the time. I asked a couple of athletes about it and just like that my decision was made. I ran three years of track and cross country in high school and four years of the same in college. I soon thereafter ran 25 marathons, and still in fact, run 40 miles per week some 45 years after that day in science class. My coach is a sensational man. I had loving and caring parents, so I was not looking for a surrogate for them. I realized at the time what an important niche a coach fills in peoples’ lives. I considered many college majors and career paths like medicine and dentistry when I was 20 years old. My thoughts kept coming back to science teaching and track coaching. I wanted to do with others what my coach had done for me. My mom cried when I told her my career decision. She was a teacher and felt I was way too quiet and introspective to handle a classroom. I guess I proved her wrong.

MR: You have been a long-time instructor for USATF Coaching Education and helped shape programming through your work on the executive committee and were instrumental in the creation of the USATF Cross Country Specialist Course based on the work of USATF Legend Coach, Dr. Joe Vigil and that launched in 2016. When reflecting on your contributions to coach education, what is an evolution or accomplishment you are most proud of?

SC: I am a scientist above all else. My coaching and teaching are an offshoot of that, not the other way around. Science is broadly-based on three principles, 1. elimination of variables, 2. replication of data, and 3. transfer of authenticated knowledge. That is how I operate, although our society does not function quite this way. When USATF began using the motto: athlete centered, coach driven, and science based, it resonated with me. It completely described my way of thinking. When I saw that scientist-coaches were developing a coaching education program in the mid-1980s I was intrigued. I saw a data driven education program that emphasized individual development of all runners on a team that was replicable, and just not focused on generational talent. I was very lucky. The first-generation USATF instructors were my instructors. Joe Vigil, Gary Winkler, Vern Gambetta, Gary Wilson, Dorothy Doolittle, and Rick McGuire, all taught me how to coach runners of varied ability so that all could be successful. My accomplishments as a second-generation instructor in the program pale in comparison to the giants that I learned from in USATF Coaching Education. I do think I have accomplished one important thing and that is to keep alive what it was all intended to be when it was developed 40 years ago. The basic structure and three levels of instruction are still there. It has withstood the test of time, partly because I was in the room and tried to maintain what the lions who developed the program intended it to be. I have seen many attempts to move away from the scientific perspective that the curriculum is based on. I am proud to report to Vern Gambetta and Joe Vigil when I occasionally still see them that the spirit of discovery lives on in USATF Coaching Education, and that it has not become a cookbook for contemporary coaches seeking quick answers.

MR: You’ve coached countless Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) state champions, including alumni Ben Blankenship, a 2016 Rio Olympian (1500m), and in 2017 were inducted into the MSHSL Hall of Fame. While the standout teams and individuals may get more of the spotlight, you’ve had athletes of all abilities on your Stillwater teams. Tell us about your coaching philosophy for not only creating a winning program at Stillwater, but also how you’ve prepared your athletes to become successful individuals (in life) regardless of them continuing in the sport collegiately or even professionally, and its importance?

SC: If you watch me at a track meet, hopefully you will always see me rushing up to the athletes at the finish who just set personal bests, and not just hanging out with the winner. With 75 distance runners on our team, that is a lot of personal bests to memorize and keep track of. All runners want to hear sincere praise from their coach right after they accomplish something extraordinary, not some mention of it on the bus ride home or the next day. I get more pumped for a miler who breaks 5:10 for the first time than for the guy breaking 4:10 for the first time. I sincerely mean that. The 4:10 guy is going to have a back-slapping mob around him at the finish and I will soon have my moment, but the 5:10 guy is just as happy, and there is never a wait to talk to him. At Stillwater, it has always been important for younger runners to learn from older runners. I have very few rules for the boys, but lots of expectations. Rules can be put down on paper, expectations come from the heart. Over time the boys learn these expectations from me, and most embrace them, which leads to high levels of performance in everything they do. There is no doubt I have an ego, for you cannot stay competitive without it. Ego only becomes a problem when it reaches the point where you believe that you alone are responsible for your success. I promote healthy ego development along with physical development. This is a necessary step in developing not only good leaders but good followers. In the end, coaching philosophy is not what you write down in a sentence or two on a website or job application. It is how a coach lives their life, which then becomes how the team leaders live their lives, and finally how the followers live their lives. There is a lot of responsibility here. Coaching is certainly not a profession for everyone.

MR: The city of Stillwater, MN was named the “3rd best place for runners in 2021” according to a ranking compiled on One might think your cross country and track and field teams’ long history of excellence at Stillwater High School had to provide a boost, or at least a consideration to that third-place ranking and only two spots behind Tracktown USA, Eugene, OR. Despite the harsh winters, certainly sounds like a setting for a training oasis. As the outdoor season opens up, what’s your outlook on the season?

SC: It was certainly fun seeing little Stillwater ranked right in there with Boulder and Eugene. I am proud of that publicity for two reasons, with one being the influence our successful team had on the ranking. The other piece that made me proud is that I have been a Stillwater Parks and Trails Commissioner since 2005. The investment we have made in great parks and trails has been astounding, not only in serving the entire running community but the town in general. This is an outdoors town quite frankly. Besides running we have biking, kayaking, skiing, rock climbing, and many other outside activities. Kids grow up doing these things. Get a summer job? Are you kidding, they would have no time for that. This lifestyle completely benefits the development of the runners on the team. They start as 9th graders with so much “accidental fitness” that it is astonishing. Runners arrive at summer practice with kayaks and mountain bikes racked on their cars (same as me), and once we are done running off they go for the rest of a great day. They like to work and sweat and be outside. The runner’s mentality. Sure, we have cold winters, but it is not 1858 when Stillwater was the government center of the new state of Minnesota. With modern clothes and the desire to be recreating outside we run all year long. There might be 5-7 days where weather is really an issue but name any place that is better than that. Predictions are for meteorologists and election pundits, and I certainly do not have one for our team this spring, as any scientist will say, the best predictor of future events is the evidence of past events. Since 2000, we have been in the top five teams at our state meet (two divisions in Minnesota) 14 times, so somewhere in there would be a best guess.

MR: And lastly, what has been your favorite USATF course (or lecture topic) to instruct?

SC: I just love teaching. Picking a favorite course with that mentality is tough, but I am also a traditionalist. So, I will pick Level 2 as my favorite USATF course and I am excited to debut the updated Endurance curriculum at the summer 2022 school.

MR: Thank you Scott. I always appreciate your Minnesota candor and can’t wait to catch up with you after the MSHSL state meet. For our readers, you can catch Scott instructing next at the July USATF Level 2 School and the upcoming Cross Country Specialist courses. We hope to see you there!