As spring approaches, the University of Tennessee track and field team will take on Florida this weekend at the Pepsi Florida Relay in Gainesville, Florida.
With the Volunteers shifting from indoors to outdoors, head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan made it clear that there is a change in the intensity. With every event, there is a specific importance on having a clear mindset.
“Coaching every event is extremely different,” Alford-Sullivan said. “Just like any sport, and dealing with different positions, it’s like the difference between coaching a quarterback and a receiver, or a pitcher and a catcher.
“Everyone is different. You have to take a look at skill set, but event persons are extremely skilled and oriented.”
While dealing with all different types of athletes, events and skill sets, Alford-Sullivan said she gives a lot of credit to her amazing coaching staff and that communication is key amongst all athletes and coaches.
“We have a skilled set of coaches with various backgrounds and strengths. It takes a lot of communication. We even have weekly meetings to discuss everything we need to over the course of each seven days,” Alford-Sullivan said. “This week’s meeting was a rust buster. Preparing outside for the element of weather.”
The Vols appear to be making as many strides toward success as they can, despite being what Alford-Sullivan called a “young team.”
“We are seeing improvement. We are always looking to continue to grow,” she said. “We only have one senior boy and four senior girls. We are fairly young, but we are always looking for improvement. Never settle.”
As communication opens up within the team, those who directly work together must stay in focus. Those within the relay spots rely not only on their own mental focus, but also on their teammate coming before them and the teammate they will hand off to.
“Sprinters have to play together and practice together. There needs to be a great sense of trust and rhythm involved,” Alford-Sullivan said. “It takes quite a bit of trust for the athletes in the 4 x 100 (relay).”
The team plans to use this long and eventful weekend to prepare for more crucial times ahead in the season.
“These meets are good for us,” Alford-Sullivan said. “This will prepare us for conference. Conference is three days packed with events, and we need to be able to keep a mental and physical focus for that extended period of time.”