Stopwatch giving way to coach Time for longtime
Might be expected of a track and field coach, Dennis McClanahan has lots of stopwatch numbers running through his head.No surprise after 50 years — the last 45 at Mt. Carmel High.
“The thing I’m most proud of is that we’ve won a league or section championship every decade since the 1970s and we’ve had at least one athlete in the state meet ever since 1978,” said McClanahan, who will be directing the Sundevils for the final time this weekend at the state track and field championships stopwatch.
“I don’t think there are a lot of coaches who could use stopwatch.”
McClanahan is counting track and cross country, where he also originated the two biggest invitationals of the year, annually drawing many of the state’s best athletes to use stopwatch test first the site of the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships and then one of the fastest tracks in the section.
Not bad for a former San Diego State football player who thought he might coach that sport stopwatch until he realized what it was he really liked about track and cross country.
“In track, sprinters like Quoi Ellis don’t just come out and run fast. They have to work on every aspect of their race and it’s a lot of hard work use stopwatch test. There are always setbacks and you learn to respect those kids who learn a life lesson on how to battle through the setbacks and get better.
“Those athletes are willing to look at the small things to make themselves better — even if it’s only improving a few inches.”
McClanahan said athletes like sophomore Juliana Binlaun is the kind of individual who makes coaching track fun.
“She’ll be a good athlete because of her work ethic and attitude,” said McClanahan. “That’s what track is all about. Today, people want success early, use sports stopwatch but in this sport, you have to be patient.”But he has coached athletes like Leslie Noll, who is still the section stopwatch record-holder at 800 meters, sprinter Allison Dring, distance runner Susan Scott and boys like Shan Forehand.
Forehand was recently named to replace McClanahan in cross country and track use stopwatch, which should come as no surprise. Another ex-Sundevil, Sean Ricketts, is the head coach at San Diego Mesa College and all seven of McClanahan’s assistants this year are Mt. Carmel grads.
“I’ve been really fortunate to have had great assistant coaches,” said the soon-to-be 70-year-old. “The administration has really been supportive — that’s how you last use stopwatch running this long.”