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Cochrane Endurance Project athletes find success at provincials

“After CALTAF I would have been happy with some modest personal bests and good experience, I would have considered that successful. But what I expected and where they ended up— They just totally exceeded everything that I thought was possible this year.”

COCHRANE— The Cochrane Endurace Project’s season wrapped up on Sunday (Aug. 8) at the 2021 Sherwood Park Track Classic, Alberta’s track and field provincial championships.

Many of the Endurance Project’s athletes saw success over the weekend with the club’s Terrell Keys bringing home a silver and bronze in the 800 and 1,500-metre races; Nick Hooper earning bronze in the 800-metre race; Brendan Maguire taking silver in the 2,000-metre steeplechase; Eric Swedlo winning a silver in the high jump competition; Julia Hooper bringing home a bronze in the high jump competition; and Caden Jones being crowned the provincial champion in the 1,500-metre steeplechase, and also earning a silver and bronze medal in the 1,200-metre and 2,000-metre races, respectively.

The head coach of the Endurance Project, Travis Cummings, said it was a big step for the club to take.

“After CALTAF [the Calgary Track and Field Classic] I would have been happy with some modest personal bests and good experience, I would have considered that successful. But what I expected and where they ended up— They just totally exceeded everything that I thought was possible this year.”

Cummings said after the club’s recent success at the Calgary Track and Field Classic, he expected good results from his athletes, but their success in areas that aren’t considered the main focus of the Endurance Project was a surprise.

“I knew what we were capable of after CALTAF, so I was excited going into provincial. They came through and then some,” Cummings said. “I wasn’t expecting high jump medals, that came out of nowhere, I really wasn’t expecting relay medals, but they worked really hard on their exchanges and they nailed it.”

More than their results, Cummings said, he was impressed by their confidence going into the championship races.

“What I was pleased with was that they were really confident going into provincials. They knew what they were capable of and then either met what their expectation was for what they were capable of or exceeded it. That’s kind of what you want in a provincial championship.”

Cummings said he has been impressed by the club members' commitment to the program and the training schedule in place. Because he does not have to worry about ensuring the athletes are following their training regimen, he is free to worry about more technical aspects of the program.

“I’ve been able to focus on making good workouts and periodizing properly, and trying new things and working on skills with them,” he said. “When you’re not worried about whether or not they’re doing their workouts it’s a lot easier as a coach and you can do extra things. I’m not spending a lot of time making sure they’re not skipping workouts and keeping them accountable, they’re doing that for each other.”

That team culture of accountability, Cummings said, is a common thread among successful organizations, and something that he has preached since the beginning of the Endurance Project.

“The programs that I find are most successful are always the ones that have a really positive team culture,” he said. “If you have a culture that breeds excellence, but is also inclusive, you get a good combination of people excelling and enjoyment, and that’s always been the goal, that’s always been the philosophy.”

Although the club and its coaches put an emphasis on high performance, there are many different versions of what high performance means to each athlete.

The Endurance Project includes athletes of all ages and skill levels, many of whom are focused on living an active lifestyle, while others are focused on competing at a high level.

Cummings said it’s important as a coach to meet the athlete where they are, in terms of their goals and performance.              

“High performance means different things for different people. As a coach, when I think about high performance I think about how can I get the most out of an athlete based on what they’re capable of. When we talk about what athletes are capable of, I have athletes that are capable of winning provincials, I have athletes that are capable of putting up national-calibre times and being national athletes, but I also have athletes who, if they just make the team, or if they improve throughout the season, or if we’re talking about older athletes, if they can maximize the most out of the limited time they have to do healthy active living, to me that’s all high performance.”

After a successful run at provincials, the athletes will have a few weeks off before resuming training in September, getting ready for a fall season of competition.