Jerry Arnold was a track and cross country coach for 35 years. 13 years at Carrollton High School, 17 at Brookwood High School and 5 at Mill Creek High School, After retiring in 2008, he continued to stay involved in the sport for the next 10 years; serving on the GHSA advisory board and announcing for the Mill Creek home meets. Currently, he's chasing a little white ball down the fairway!
Tell us about your origins as an athlete, how you fell in love with the Sport, where you competed at and honors you won (when you first got interested in the Sport)
As a freshman I attended West Rome High School where I tried out for football just like all of my friends. I soon found out I was too skinny to play that sport. One of my coaches, Robert Green, asked me to come out for Track and run distance, so that's what I did. I went to state my freshman year and that ignited my passion for running! I moved to East Rome High School for my junior year and competed for John Bray. During my senior year I was 4th in the mile and 1st in the 2 mile. The athlete I beat was coached by Bill Thorn, who would later become a good friend and mentor in my coaching career. That year the state meet was at Tara Stadium where I watched Cairo HS and the great coach, Tommy Taylor, dominate the rest of the competition. They were a complete team; distance, sprints, throws, jumps, and hurdles. This left a lasting impression on me.
Did you compete in college and how you did there (honors) or, did you continue your love for the Sport next as a coach?
I attended West Georgia College in Carrollton and continued running. During my senior year I was coached by Lee Fidler who convinced me that the longer distances were my forte. My best time in the six-mile was good but not great at 30:10. I thought I was pretty good until I arrived at the national meet where I was lapped in the 6 mile by Tomy Fulton. Look him up. He was a great runner back in the day. I was fortunate to work as a graduate assistant to Bill Webb, who later went on to coach several national championship teams at the University of Tennessee. He taught me the intricacies of all of the other track and field events. We spent hours watching film of Olympic athletes competing, and analyzing the points to look for to coach each event. I was humbled and honored to be I was inducted into the State University of West Georgia Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.
Tomy Sitton, Jerry Arnold, and Joe Carter.
What, if any, coaches were your greatest influences in Cross Country and/or Track and Field and how did they affect/inspire your career?
Numerous outstanding coaches influenced me along the way. I first met Paul Koshewa at a national convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico where we talked about starting a coaching clinic. We came back to Georgia and I helped Paul manage and operate a coaches clinic that was held at Westminster High School for some years. Vernon Wilkes was the first high school head coach for whom I worked. He taught me to be meticulous in preparing for a meet. Watching him get ready for the Carrollton Relays was amazing! This was great preparation because I transitioned into his position when he stepped down. This was back in the day before computers did the work for you. We would list every competitor in the order that coaches sent them and then we put them into heats by hand. Then we had to handwrite the heat sheets on carbon paper so we could give them to the clerks, timers, and everyone else who needed them. Next, we spent hours tilling pits, lining shot-discus areas, and tightening blocks. It was important that when we hosted a meet it was first-class. At away meets, I made it my policy to always tell coaches what a good job they did and how much I appreciated all of their hard work.
In my early years I always tried to analyze and understand why other coaches were so successful. Emory Fears was a successful coach at Headland High School and one of the first people I spoke with about how to train cross country runners. Another great coach was Max Mayo at Cedar Shoals. He and I talked a lot about how to get kids to buy into the cross country sport. Our conversations led me to institute our summer cross country camp trips and ranking system while I was working at Brookwood High School. Joe Carter was another strong influence in my life. At Brookwood, he worked with me as an assistant coach in cross country and we won state and were 2nd the next year. In 1990, Joe became the head cross country coach so I could concentrate more on track. Joe, is still coaching at Brookwood, helping his son and son-in-law who are coaches there. Tomy Sitton was the head girls coach at Brookwood. He and I collaborated about training and meet preparation. He introduced me to Bobby Moeck who was our ultra-successful shot and discus coach for many years. Rik Moore replaced me when I retired from Mill Creek. He was selected because I knew we shared the same goals and aspirations for the program.
Do you have any top pupils (athletes) who have gone on to become coaches?
Several of my athletes went on to become coaches. Chris Carter at Brookwood and Rodney Born at Loganville come to mind. Perhaps the most notable is Craig Musselwhite (above) who returned to Carrollton to become a successful coach, winning 8 state championships. He is also the state meet director for track and cross country for the State of Georgia.
Give us a list of all the State Team Championships/Individual State Champs you coached, or just Region Champs as a team/individuals and Coaching Honors you have achieved?
We won state championships in Track and Field at Carrollton 1980,1981,1982,1983,1986,1987.
State Cross Country championships at Brookwood in 1989,2001,2002,2003.
I was assistant coach to Joe Carter when he won state xc in 1994,1995, 1997, 1998
State University of West Georgia Hall of Fame
Carrollton High School Hall of Fame
Golden South Classic Hall of Fame
Georgia Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame
Gwinnett County Track and Cross Country Hall of Fame
Individual Track State Champs:
|Willie Smith||220 Yard Dash||Carrollton HS|
|Arthur Boykin||High Jump||Carrollton HS|
|Jerome Winters||Long Jump 3x||Carrollton HS|
|Terry J. Phillips||Pole Vault||Carrollton HS|
|Jerome Winters||220 Yard Dash 2x||Carrollton HS|
|John Morrow||Pole Vault||Carrollton HS|
|Relay||440 Yard Relay||Carrollton HS|
|Relay||Mile Relay||Carrollton HS|
|Steve Hicks||Triple Jump||Carrollton HS|
|Craig Musselwhite||High Jump 3x||Carrollton HS|
|Alex Shell||110 High Hurdles||Carrollton HS|
|Alex Shell||300 Yard Hurdles||Carrollton HS|
|Alex Shell||Long Jump||Carrollton HS|
|Scott Erback||Shot Put||Brookwood|
|Robbie Moffa||Pole Vault||Brookwood|
|Jeremy Campbell||3200 Meters||Brookwood|
|Ian Knight||Pole Vault||Brookwood|
|Antonio Lamar||Shot Put||Brookwood|
|Dan Fassinger||800 Meters||Brookwood|
|Chase Sasser||Pole Vault||Brookwood|
|Cameron Cheek||Pole Vault||Mill Creek|
What are the 2-3 most striking moments in Track/XC you witnessed happen? and please relive it here for us...
I worked at the Olympic stadium in Atlanta setting up the field events each day. This was a special time for me and a lot of coaches from around the country. We were able to watch close up some amazing performances. I had to go off premises to pick up the athletes poles and the truck was accompanied by armed military personnel to get the poles from the warm-up track into the Olympic stadium. To see the amount of security at the facility was amazing.
I still look back on the Georgia Olympics in Jefferson and the accomplishments of Morris Bryan, Jr. When I was running, if you won a medal you went over to the tent told them your name and they gave you the medal. There was no recognition other than hearing your name on the loudspeaker. Jefferson High School and the town of Jefferson still hold a special place in my heart for all the work they put into honoring the athletes. I take out a program occasionally and look at all the history that is Georgia track and field. I still long for the time when you could see the best of the best at one State Meet.
How do you feel the Sport has advanced this Century?
I feel we are going in the right direction with the implementation of Sectionals. This has allowed 4 athletes to come out of each region and for our best athletes to advance. Rule changes that are being implemented are good for the sport. I am looking forward to seeing if the GHSA will go all in to join the National Federation of High Schools in establishing rules that are universal across the NFHS rule book. No more special Georgia rules for participation; four total events, only one relay team per school, and three from each school can enter region in an event. We are slowly coming on board with the rest of the states around us and across the country.
How challenging has it been for you to watch COVID-19 destroy the Outdoor Track season?
It reminds me of when the Olympic team had to boycott and all those athletes who had qualified did not get a chance to compete and fulfill their dreams, We as a country were asked to sacrifice so our hospitals did not get overwhelmed. I am so sorry that the athletes and coaches did not get to accomplish their dreams
What are the most important things you attempted to pass on as a coach for all the athletes you coached?
"Love for the sport," and "hard work pays off," are two of the things I tried to instill in each athlete I coached.
What would you like to pass on to the next generation of young coaches about the Sport, winning, and mentoring kids to become successful productive lives as adults?
Learn from other coaches who are willing to share their experiences. Don't be afraid to coach multiple events - even if they are out of your comfort zone. Thank other coaches for their dedication and hard work. Be sure your athletes are team players.
Can you please give me a paragraph about what coaching the Sport has meant in your life and what are your future plans?
It has been very fulfilling for me to know that I have spent the majority of my life coaching athletes to be the best they can be. I've had numerous successes and some failures. Throughout it all, my passion for track and field and cross country has grown and will continue to grow as I watch other coaches build traditions of success. My future plans include playing as much golf as possible and spending quality time with my family.