Ehlert speaks at ITCCCA clinic

Chris Steele
Todd Ehlert spoke about the Geneseo Middle School program at the annual Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association clinic.

Todd Ehlert was asked to share what makes the Geneseo Middle School track program such a success.

Ehlert spoke at the annual Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association clinic on Jan. 14, and coaches from larger communities around the state were awestruck by the program Geneseo has cultivated.

“They don’t understand how we get the kids to do it,” Ehlert said. “We have 220 kids out for boys and girls track at the middle school level. It’s about the community.

“The parents are great; the administration is great; the teachers are great; everyone around us is great in how they support us.”

An IESA committee member, Ehlert was asked to speak at the clinic as the group tries to educate younger coaches and make track stronger around the state.

Ehlert said that usually a dozen coaches attend, but this year they showed up in record numbers with 90 coaches in attendance.

The emphasis Ehlert tried to share was the philosophy they have created in Geneseo and the success it has brought.

Ehlert said coaches in Geneseo at the high school see the benefit of developing a strong foundation on the track.

With athletes becoming more specialized at earlier ages, the fact that the Geneseo track program keeps an open mind and doesn’t punish kids for missing meets or practices for club sports makes a big difference and keeps the focus on having fun.

“If a kid isn’t having fun, what is the point?” Ehlert said.

A look at the legacy of Geneseo’s high school success has created an atmosphere everyone wants to be a part of, and track gives athletes the tool every athlete is looking for — speed.

“We are the base,” Ehlert said. “We say come out for track, we want to make you faster for all sports. That’s really what we are doing. We lose kids to softball, soccer and baseball and it’s fine. We want to make Geneseo the fastest it can be and that’s our main focus.”

The support Geneseo receives from the community is hard for other programs to replicate.

Ehlert said coaches were astonished by the number of people involved from the middle school physical education program, strength and conditioning program, facilities and the booster club.