Coaches Spotlight- Kati Smallwood

                                  Coaches Spotlight-  Kati Smallwood


1- Congrats on having a great regular season. When did you first become interested in Track and Field?
I began running in middle school and was a Northside Red Runner.  I continued running on my HS XC and Track teams.  I ran track in HS but it really was just to stay in shape for Cross Country. 
2- Did you compete in HS or College as an athlete? or another Sport?   
I only ran XC and Track in HS
3- Describe your journey from novice Coach to your Head Coaching position now
I got back into running after college and at my first HS job just started running with the XC team.  That turned into a volunteer position with that school and continued that with the track season as well.  When I transferred to LKEV I also was a volunteer coach there for two years, XC and track.  At both of those schools I just coached the distance events, and really just worked with the girls teams. When Greenbrier opened up I applied for the XC and Track positions and got them.  
4- How important is it to have the full support of the AD and resources available to succeed?
I can’t imagine working for anyone but the AD at our school.  He is completely supportive of our two running sports.  He understands the importance of these programs to the athletes involved and to our school as a whole.  He also understands the importance of how football and track can complement each other (other sports as well but this is the biggest relationship) and fights for what is good for our sports.  
5- What are some of the challenges in building a successful program?
One of the biggest challenges is getting the parents to understand that to be great some sacrifices are required.  Commitment to a program is hard as the kids want to be a part of all the things they have interest in and sometimes its hard to convince parents to help their kid make hard choices.  Developing an attitude of competitiveness and desire to win amongst your team can be difficult when you’re not on top, but it’s the coach’s job to make them see change and improvement as you strive to goals.  When you’re “outside Atl” its important for your Administration, AD and parents to allow you to travel to where the competition is so the kids can see what they need to become.  That requires money and sometimes missing school, so support is crucial
6- Do you have a supportive Track Booster Club?
We don’t really have a “club” per se, but we do have a nucleus of parents that are extremely helpful and willing to do what it takes to help the team
7- Has Middle Track the past few years in your feeder schools helped contribute to the HS program's success?
Absolutely!! And they have started participating in the State MS meet in April which will create more interest in the sport so they continue in HS
8- What are your program's Goals every season? County/Region title, State Championship?
Well…win state is always a goal.  But before you can do that you have to focus on individual improvement, Region, and sectionals, so those are our initial goals.  We also focus on breaking school records.  In Track, when an athlete achieves a performance in the “elite” section of the milesplit rankings they get an elite Tshirt.  I thinks this helps motivate them to continue improving even after they PR.
9- Assess your team's Region meet and the opporunities faced at Sectionals to advance. 
We were sorta confident that our boys team would come out on top at Region but at last minute lost our top distance runner to stomach virus and top sprinter to hamstring pull.  Our win anyway is a tribute to how the whole team pulls together and matters when it comes to Region team wins. Havn’t been to sectionals so not sure how to address that part.
10- What advancements should the GHSA make to bring our Sport on par with the 'other' 47 states ?
We should be changing the 300H to 400H to prepare athletes for college level competition.  Also, other states have both genders competing at all levels at the same time and would like to see a change to how we compete the genders different weekends.  IF we did State all one weekend, just split the classifications between the two current sites we could have Region and Sectionals a week later which would help us with spring breaks- more time after spring break before have to compete at Region.  This would also save us travelling two separate weekends.
Bonus- What has been among your favorite accomplishments for the school you now coach at?
My favorite accomplishment is when any one of my athletes sets a PR or accomplishes one of their goals