Coaching Veteran Todd Morgan Offering Online Training/College Prep Courses
By Todd Grasley
Todd Morgan has nearly two decades of track and field coaching experience. Morgan started out at as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater UNC and has made stops at Virginia Commonwealth, the University of South Florida, University of Florida, and most recently the University of Virginia. His coaching expertise isn't just for the collegiate and elite athlete these days. Morgan is now starting an online coaching program that caters to the high school distance runner for both training purposes and college prep. We caught up with him to talk about his background in the sport and how this new idea came to fruition.
Growing up in North Carolina, you were a standout runner, but didn't have a coach with your specific background correct?
I grew up in Wake Forest, NC, and went to a what was then a small high school. It has since grown, as Raleigh has expanded. But, at the time we were in a smaller school classification. While my high school had great support and great coaches, they did not have a lot of background in distance running. In the beginning our teams were very small, but, I was able to recruit friends to come out and eventually we grew.
It was a local minister who ran at Campbell University reached out to you and then volunteered to help you during your freshman year that really sparked your interest in the sport?
I saw how much proper training could help you improve. I also stopped growing, so I realized playing basketball for UNC was probably not a realistic hope. Each year I progressed and won a state championship and consistently had some of the top times in the state, but, nothing on the national level. In those days, there was little racing outside of your state or even an idea of what went on beyond your state meet. I graduated high school in 1994, so Al Gore had not invented the internet yet!
You went onto run at North Carolina and were fortunate enough to be on some great teams with great coaches.
Joan Nesbit (10k Olympian -Atlanta) and Jerry Schumacher (Nike Bowerman Team) were my coaches, and are still great friends and influences in my coaching. I improved dramatically in college and was All-ACC on the track several times, scored on 5 ACC Championship teams. I never reached super-star status, however, I did get to a point where I had a good grasp on the next level of the sport. After school I was able to go train with Coach John Goodridge and a post collegiate group Nike was supporting. That was a game changer for me in terms of work load perspective.
At the college coaching ranks you've had numerous accolades and coached some athletes who have had post collegiate success like Gen LaCaze, Iona Lake, and Cory McGee. What are some highlights for you?
2 - Time SEC Cross Country Coach Of The Year
2 - Time NCAA South Region Coach of the Year
2 - Time NCAA Southeast Region Coach of the Year
ACC Cross Country Coach of the Year
2 NCAA Men's Track and Field Team Titles
6 SEC Team Titles
2015 ACC Cross Country Champions
8 NCAA Team Podium Finishes (Top-4 at NCAA Championships)
2 NCAA Individual Champs
First ever top-10 NCAA Women's Cross Country finish in Florida history
3 SEC Athletes of the Year - Rebecca Lowe (Australia), Charlotte Browning(UK), Dumisane Hlaselo (RSA)
9 SEC Individual Champions
7 ACC Individual Champions
31 NCAA All-Americans
What made you decide to start online coaching?
Recently, I have accepted a position working with a professional group sponsored by Reebok that is based out of Charlottesville, Va (my current home), and is headed by Coach Chris Fox (formally of Syracuse). This has allowed me to have time to do something like this and hopefully have a broader reach in terms of helping young people getting started in the sport. This is something that would have been a game changer for me, if it had existed in the mid 90's!
High school coaches aren't always the biggest fans of online coaching. You aren't trying to step on any toes, but rather help a kid with no coach or team, or a non distance coach, to get the most out of their running and ultimately earn a scholarship.
After 16 years of college coaching, I have definitely learned that there are some excellent high school coaches out there that know their stuff and run great programs. My intent to 'coach' on-line is not meant to impede those situations. However, I do know there are a lot of kids out there, just like I was, that have a desire and the potential to be good, but just aren't lucky enough to live in the right school district. Plus, my ability to help guide/advise people that are looking for help with the college selection process should reach anyone. As an NCAA coach, we are tested every year on all of the rule changes. It is unrealistic to think high school parents and coaches can keep up with them all. Also, I have 16 years of friendships and connections with my peers...college coaches!
Speaking of scholarships, it's also online coaching in the physical sense of training and workouts, but also how to get recruited as well correct and go through that process?
That's correct. I feel like there are so many school options that are often overlooked, or not even known about by high schoolers. Power 5 conference schools offer fantastic coaching and opportunities, but in a sport like cross country/track, there are dozens of fantastic options outside of the major conferences. How you connect with those schools, and convey a genuine interest is something I would be able to help with tremendously.
What can potential clients expect to see and what are your goals in all of this?
First and foremost, they will be receiving personal training plans that fit their strengths and improve on their weaknesses. If they intend to run in college, they will be prepared to do so by the guidance given. Becoming your best at running involves so much more than just the hour or two a day you spend actually doing it, they will understand what needs to be done the other 22 hours of the day in order to get the most out of themselves. If something needs adjustment or doesn't feel right, I want to hear about it in order to make corrections. Plus, I want to create a dialog about their long term running goals and what is the best fit for them in terms of colleges. On all accounts, they will get and honest and unbiased opinion on everything.
My goals are that each person grows to love the sport a little more, improves, and uses running to open a door for them that might not have been there otherwise. I hope what I have learned over he past 20 years as a coach and athlete can help someone.
For more info check out collegepreprunning.com.