FACTORYVILLE — Brian Kearney aims to bring stability to the Lackawanna Trail track and field program.
Kearney, who also serves as vice principal at the high school, was named as the team’s head coach during a school board meeting on Feb. 8.
He previously coached at Valley View High School from 2003 to 2014, leading the Cougars to eight Lackawanna League Division 1 championships and four District 2 titles. The team compiled a 52-meet winning streak during his tenure as coach.
Kearney looks forward to building strong relationships with many of the student-athletes at Trail through his roles as coach and administrator.
“As an assistant principal, I’m in charge of discipline and other student-related issues,” he said. “Coaching gives me further opportunities to work with the kids, maybe in a different manner but I’m still trying to preach the importance of a positive student life,” he said.
The first-year coach has been pleased with the enthusiasm from the group and is optimistic about the future of the team.
“They are extremely hard workers and they want consistency in the program,” he said. “That’s important to any kid. They’re extremely cordial to each other and cheer each other on during practices. We have a good turnout for a small school so that excites me and we have some great athletes in this school.”
Kearney feels establishing a strong foundation in the younger grades will be critical to building a successful high school program.
“They haven’t had a lot of success because they’ve had such a turnover in coaches,” Kearney said of the culture at Trail. “There have been five coaches in seven years. There has been no consistency. It starts with building a junior high program. I want to teach them about the sport, how to enjoy the sport and how to thrive in the sport.”
While the sport of track and field consists of many individualized events, Kearney stresses the importance of having a team-first mentality.
“It starts with our team philosophy,” he said. “Track and field, to me, is a team sport. If each individual does their job, then we as a team (at Valley View) have been successful. I think we have an opportunity for success here, too.”
According to Kearney, mastering the fundamentals of the sport will help the team continue the improve throughout the season.
“We have to work on some running form, that’s most important,” he said. “Speed development is also key for our younger kids. We have a consistent distance program in place led by our cross country coach Keith Youtz. Every day is going to be a teaching lesson.”
Kearney believes creating a enjoyable atmosphere will lead to more interest in the sport as well as success in meets.
“Your student-athletes are your greatest salespeople,” he said. “The more fun they have, the more they talk to their friends about the team. They essentially help build the program themselves. I will also try to get kids to understand a little bit about the program and help parents understand there are a lot of scholarship offers available.”
Lackawanna Trail will begin its season by hosting Riverside in a Lackawanna League crossover meet on Tuesday, March 29. The Lions host Susquehanna in their first Division 4 league meet on Wednesday, April 6.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.