TRACK AND FIELD: Two-time Olympic gold medalist hired as new GHS head coach

New GHS track and field coach Alvin Harrison waves the American

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Alvin Harrison will lead the
Gilroy High track and field team in 2011, GHS Athletic Director
Jack Daley announced Tuesday.
Wrapping up a set of dead lifts in a gym a couple months ago, Olympic champion sprinter Alvin Harrison looked himself in the mirror and realized something was missing.

“At first, I never considered coaching. But I felt empty,” Harrison said. “I realized at that point that I had to stay involved in the sport.”

Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, will lead the Gilroy High track and field team in 2011, Gilroy High School Athletic Director Jack Daley announced Tuesday.

“I’m just really excited,” said Harrison, who has been living in Hollister since September. “The opportunity is great and it will fill that void I was feeling. “I just want to give back and help out the younger kids.”

Daley said he recognized immediately the impact Harrison will bring to the program.

“I just really liked his passion for the sport and communicating his knowledge,” said Daley pointing to some of the qualities he saw in Harrison.

Last season was a banner year for the GHS track and field team. The girls’ league championship was their first in 21 years while the boys’ fourth-place finish in team competition at the Central Coast Section Championships gave them their first podium appearance since 1982. En route to the historical finish, the Mustangs 4×100-meter relay squad took first at the 2010 section meet to advance to the state championships.

Harrison will assuredly boost an already strong boys’ sprint squad, with all members of that championship relay team – Julius Travis, Romeo Travis, David Guenther and Jourdan Soares – returning this season.

Harrison’s willingness to teach will also add to the reigning league champion girls’ squad. Factoring in Harrison’s sprinting prowess, Daley said, the fit couldn’t be better.

“From an experience standpoint, he fits a need with his skill set and will help the sprinters that we have coming back this year,” Daley said.

Harrison, with twin brother Calvin, helped lead the North Salinas Vikings to a section championship in 1993, and was part of two United States Olympic teams that won gold in the 1,600-meter relay in 1996 and 2000.

However, Harrison’s career hit rock bottom in 2004, accepting a ban from the sport after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs, though never testing positive.

In 2008, Harrison was stripped of the gold he won in 2000 but still owns the 1996 gold and an individual silver medal he garnered in the 400 in the 2000 Summer Games.

“It was something that happen. It was part of life and an unfortunate experience,” Harrison said. “It was a learning experience. I don’t think that will have any impact on what I do with the kids, at all.”

After the ban expired in 2009, Harrison became a citizen of the Dominican Republic. He raced in a couple events, including the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships in March 2010.

“We brought it up (in the interview process) and had very frank and up front discussions about it,” Daley said of the 36-year-old. “He was very open and honest about it and we were satisfied that it is an area of his life that he has learned from and has moved on. He served his punishment and I think he understands his role as a high school coach.”

Principal Marco Sanchez echoed the endorsement of Harrison and said he looks forward to watching the new coach hand down what he has learned to the athletes.

“He will impart his wisdom from his journey and use it as a positive,” Sanchez said. “He interviewed very well. There are always people who want to give back to the institutions that produced them. And in Alvin’s case it’s the public school system.

“He will influence the next generation of the sport and we are the beneficiaries of that.”

Harrison, is the Chief Executive Officer of Track Factor and athletic company located in the Dominican Republic.

Harrison will meet with the Mustang team early next week.

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