Amy Begley, 2008 Olympian, on her new job at the Atlanta Track Club Head Coach, by Carolyn Mather, Running Journal

Amy Begley, the new coach of the Atlanta Track Club, photo courtesy of ATC

The Atlanta Track Club is in the midst of monumental changes within their organization. Their long term sponsorship agreement with the Mizuno brand was announced less than three months ago.  The appointment of Amy Begley, who many remember for her gutty run in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials 10,000 meters, as head coach of the Atlanta Track Club was their next announcement.

In this interview, Carolyn Mather, a long time journalist for the Running Journal and Racing South, provided RunBlogRun with this interview of Amy Begley. 


   I have known Amy Begley for a number of years and at one time attempted to recruit her to the Atlanta Track Club Competitive Team. Now she returns to Atlanta as the head coach of the Atlanta Track Club.  Amy, a 15-time All-American and two-time NCAA national champion while competing for the University of Arkansas, made the 2008 Olympic team at 10,000 meters with a dramatic last lap, racing the clock to beat the required "A" time standard for inclusion. In 2009 she ran a personal best 31:13.78., making her the eighth-fastest American woman in history. She finished her professional career with six national titles.

    Amy is excited about her new position as head coach and  has stated that "I believe in the organization's mission of improving health and wellness through running. This sport has had a profound impact on my life, and I am eager to pay it forward to Club members of all ages and abilities." Amy took some of her very busy time to answer my questions and I truly appreciate her candor. I believe she is a valuable addition to the Atlanta Track Club.

What led you to take the head coaching job of the ATC?

Here is what I said in the AJC about the job (I added a little more here):  The job was posted and people sent it to me saying I should consider applying.  There are a lot of different components to the job. But what I loved the most is it's stuff I've done my whole life. I started kids camps for cross country and track. I've done kids speed and track and field days for YMCAs and schools. I started a non-profit "Track if for Every Body" (meaing body type) to teach kids about track and field when they are really little to try to get them to track and field and maybe not to soccer. We do say soccer players make some of the best runners.

I started a women's local running club in Portland for women who either wanted to qualify for Boston or run their first 5k or 10k. These are women who had never done a training program before so it was their first time doing that.

I coached the distance divas in Oregon and Connecticut, which is a post-collegiate group for kids graduating college and trying to make the next level. I worked with all these different groups but it's always been an outreach of my main job, which in Connecticut was as a college coach. I was doing all these things when I had time.

Now all these things I love to do is under one job title. It's an amazing job to have when everything you love is under one roof.

That's what really drew me to the job is working with all the different ages and populations in running.

What are your goals for FY 2015 in regard to the club?

Developing a training curriculum and enhancing the training options for members.  
Engage with the ATC Members and the running community.
Recruit members for the ATC Elite Team and convince the good runners to stay in the state to continue their career.

We are thrilled to have someone of your caliber be the head coach of the ATC. How do you think this job will differ from collegiate coaching?

In this job, I get to work with all ages and abilities of runners.  I will get to watch the young ATC members grow up through the club activities.  I can watch new runners find a passion for this sport.  I can be a part of Masters Track & Field, which shows that Track & Field is a lifelong sport and you can be competitive at any age.  I can watch someone run a PR after hitting a plateau in training.  I am not recruiting 17 & 18 years olds, instead I am recruiting 21 & 22 year old college graduates to join the ATC Elite.  I will also be recruiting masters runners to continue the tradition of the ATC Masters Teams.

What can you and Andrew do to enhance the ATC Elite team?

We hope to bring structure and organization to the group.  This will be the first time there has been a coach in charge of all 3 groups (open, Masters & Track & Field).  There will be scheduled practices.  Races will be planned in advance with goals set for the year. We will be there for coaching and support at practices and races.  

Give me a little background on Andrew.

He was a 4-time State Champion in Indiana and 4th at Footlocker Nationals.  Andrew went to Wisconsin for a year and ran under Martin Smith.  He transferred to Arkansas where he was a part of 9 NCAA National Championship Teams under Coach McDonnell.  He is a 3-time All-American and an Academic All-American. He qualified for the 2000 Olympic Trials.   His PRs are 28:49 for 10k and 13:56 for 5k.

In Oregon he took a High School XC team from last in the league to 6th at State in his first season.  He increased the XC team from 42 to 85 athletes in 2 years.  He has been a coach or consultant for 19 state titles in Indiana, Louisiana and Oregon.  

How do you plan to enhance the volunteer coaching program of the ATC?

The volunteer coaches have been the backbone of the training programs for the ATC.  They have done a great job in organizing and building a community.  The only change will be set workouts for the training programs that each location will implement.  

Will you be putting together corporate training programs?

The corporate training programs are a 2016 goal. 

How is the job going so far?

It is mostly organizing things like practice times and locations before the New Year.  Finding locations for practices is the problem.  Once January starts, It will be less organization and more time spent at practice getting to know the Run Leads and the athletes.

Is there any comment you have on your new position?:

It will be challenging but I look forward to working with all the different groups.  Andrew is still in Connecticut till the end of January to finish out the semester in CT.  He is a biology, anatomy & physiology teacher.  However, I brought 3 athletes with me to Atlanta.  They will be living with me while they try to make the jump to the next level of running.  

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