The Empire Track Club is an NYC-based elite track club coached by John Traumann and Tom Nohilly! Jeff Benjamin did this piece on the Empire Track Club.
Both coaches are part of a legacy that began with Coaches Frank Gagliano and Matt Centrowitz.
The new logo of the Empire Track Club, photo Empire TC
The Empire Track Club – Hurdling Challenges & Chasing Their Olympic Dreams!
By Jeff Benjamin
Last year Coaches John Trautmann & Tom Nohilly led a restructuring of the New York Tri-State Area’s premier running club, renaming the team “The Empire Track Club”.
For Trautmann (a 1992 Olympian) and Nohilly (a 2- Time World Champion Steeple team member), the challenges of getting sponsorship help while keeping to the goal of getting as many of their athletes qualified for the Olympic Trials in Eugene has been more daunting than racing at Van Cortlandt Park or clearing a Steeple water pit on a torrentially rainy day!
And yet, Empire Track athletes WILL be toeing the line at the Trials which in itself is a remarkable achievement.
But make no mistake – Coaches Trautmann & Nohilly are not prepping their athletes just to be happy to be there, that’s for sure.
Here’s some perspective from Coach Trautmann:
Coach John Trautmann, photo Empire TC
1)How challenging has the transition been for the team from 2020-2021?
“It hasn’t been easy, especially financially. When we first learned that HOKA was not going to extend us the 6 months until the trials, we were all pretty upset. Everyone was uncertain about what they would do this year. Then, as the days went on, we began to think of the situation as more of an opportunity to build something of our own and created Empire Elite. We had no sponsor and no money, so many of the athletes decided to move on. The core group that decided to stay was taking a bit of a gamble financially but believed in our group and in us as coaches which are everything six months before the Olympic Trials. Now, if you look at the way we are performing, the split from HOKA has turned out to be a windfall (L.O.L.). The athletes are running with a chip on their shoulder, we have had no serious injuries and we have added a few athletes with untapped potential! It reminds me a lot of the parable of the Chinese farmer whose horse runs away. You never know the consequences of the misfortune.”
Coach Tom Nohilly, photo Empire TC
2) Is there any kind of uniform training philosophy you follow?
“My biggest influences have been Gags and Matt Centrowitz, but with all the information available today easy to research numerous philosophies from Igloi in the 50s to present day Canova. As far as a uniform philosophy, it’s more about not chasing fitness but letting it happen. But also making sure each workout builds on the last. For example, one week we did 3 sets of 8 x 50m hill followed by 3 x 400. A few weeks later we increased to 3 sets of 8 x hill and 2 x 600m at the same pace as the 400s were run. If it’s a different type of workout, we could be shortening the recovery or increasing the speed.”
Dani Aragon, photo by Empire TC
3) Are your athletes in the weight room and how often?
“Yes, the athletes do work on strength but at this point, we don’t have a designated gym. This is one area where we need to do much better and put athletes on a specific training program and hopefully, a central location where we can meet.”
Jeff Benjamin with Colby Alexander, photo by Jeff Benjamin
4) Who looks like they potentially are on the verge of breaking out in June?
“We have had a few breakouts already this season. First, with Isaac Updike running 8:17 in the steeplechase, and now Dani Aragon running 4:05 in Nashville. The Eric Holt show has been fun to witness and both Colby Alexander and Johnny Gregorek are ready for big things at the trials. Brendan Martin was just 4th at the US 50k road championships and has a good chance to be placed on the word team. Meg Manley came very close to qualifying for the Olympic Trials and with a couple more weeks I’m sure she would have. Don’t sleep on Luciano Fiore, who we originally brought in to help in workouts, but ended up 38th on the 800m running 1:47.88. Also, Meggie Sullivan was training really well but has had a lingering knee problem which she addresses.”
Johnny Gregorek with his number 1 fan, photo by Jeff Benjamin
5) I do find it astonishing that THE premiere Elite NYC Area and beyond team has a challenge in trying to acquire sponsors – your thoughts?
“We have a few meetings scheduled and have met with a couple companies, but as of now, we are not close to any kind of deal. I think it should be a no-brainer for a shoe company to sponsor a team in a city of 8 million, but I guess that’s why I’m not in marketing. Most of our budget is funded on our own dime and by some generous donations. Sara Lesko and Oiselle have been a big help with Dani, but we need a lot more to accomplish what we know is possible. We are a registered 501c3 non-profit and if anyone would like to donate here is the link https://www.empireelitetrack.club/donate “
6) Any advice out there for high school and collegiate runners?
“Build up to more volume each year and work on the fundamentals of sprinting. Those two things can take you a long way!
7) Soon, there will be a significant anniversary of your dominating Olympic Trials 5000 performance in New Orleans- How amazing is that to you and do you care to reminisce?
“Next year it will be 30 years, so let’s talk about it then, LOL!”
Jeff Benjamin and John Trautmann, photo by Jeff Benjamin
Bell Lap –
The Empire Track Club a registered 501c3 non-profit and if anyone would like to donate here is the link: https://www.empireelitetrack.club/donate “
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