Stillman Track Coach Pierre Goode Uses Hindsight to Build Champions
When he was in high school, Stillman College Track and Field Coach Pierre Goode used to run up and down the highways of Town Creek, Alabama mornings, evenings and sometimes three times a day. His brothers were outstanding athletes and he was determined to be even better than they were. Pounding the pavement paid off. In 1985, he was named Mr. Football, which is a title given to the top high school player in the State of Alabama. He also set numerous state track records—including the 110 hurdles record, which he held for 28 years. He was recruited by dozens of colleges and universities, but chose to follow in the footsteps of his brothers and attend The University of Alabama. He was eventually named University of Alabama Football and Track and Field All-American and later drafted into the Denver Broncos. He played in the NFL (National Football League) from 1990 to 1992, and went on to play in the Canadian Football League until 1996. A consummate athlete, he often spent his summers competing in European track meets. Although his most cherished football and track photographs were destroyed in a fire ten years ago, his memories are vivid. Sometimes he still thinks about how he could have improved his technique and been an even greater athlete. Fortunately, Coach Goode’s hindsight has proven to be a boon to his athletes.
“Because of my experiences, I know how to make fast runners even faster,” he says. “If they don’t have proper technique, there is wasted motion. Keeping knees parallel and staying up on the balls of your feet is important.”
In addition to coaching 1996 Olympic gold medalist Rochelle Stevens, Goode has produced 48 all-SIAC (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) performers, one All-American, eight SIAC athletes of the year and several Division II national performers.
When Coach Goode came to Stillman five years ago, the track team was almost last in the SIAC conference. But every year since his arrival, Stillman runners have set records and advanced to championships. The Lady Tigers and the Tigers were crowned Western Division regular season champions during the 2011-2012 season, and the 2012-2013 season has proven to be the best yet.
One of his star athletes, Jeff Henderson, jumped 8.22 meters at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championship in Des Moines, Iowa. This earned Jeff a spot on Team USA, which is comprised of Olympic champions and other acclaimed athletes who will compete at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship in Russia, August 10 to 18.
Prior to his big win in Iowa, Jeffrey, a fitness and wellness major, became Stillman’s first male Athlete of the Year for Track and Field. He also won the 2013 Division II NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) national championship title in the 100-meter race and in the long jump at the SIAC Track and Field Championships in Pueblo, Colorado and received the High Point Athlete Award.
“Henderson had the fastest time in the nation for four weeks straight and is ranked among the top ten in the nation for 100 meter and 200 meter races and is in the top five in the nation for the long jump,” Coach Goode says proudly. “Sophomore Euphemia Edem, who won the triple jump at the SIAC championship, became our second female student to be named Athlete of the Year (the first was Janae Jones). She is number two in the nation in the triple jump and number five in the nation in the long jump. I have a freshman, Breanca Thompson, who is number eight in the nation in the 100 meter race.”
Goode adds that the 4 X 100 meter relay team comprised of Daniel Dent, Jeffrey Henderson, Adarrius Sanders, and Tyrell Moore set records three times on the way to the NCAA Track and Field championship. “And one of the biggest surprises this season was Phillip Howard, who ran a qualifying provisional time for nationals in the 110 high hurdles,” marvels Goode.
Although few experiences can match the exhilaration that an athlete feels after training hard and winning a fierce competition, Goode knows exactly how mercurial the world of sports can be. Because his father enjoyed a stint with the Chicago Bears, and his brothers were also star football players at The University of Alabama, Goode was grounded in reality from the start.
If an athlete has an opportunity to go professional, Goode says he would never tell him or her not to take it. He has great memories from his days as a pro athlete and he encourages runners to go as far as they can, but with one caveat—“I can use my experience to make you faster, and I can help you win. But you need to get a college degree because the career of an athlete is short.”
“Sports hold you to a standard,” he states. “Sports can bring the discipline that an athlete will need throughout life. Athletes learn about being on time and being where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. That’s what athletics taught me, and it’s what I try to instill in the team.”
As for the team’s future, Coach Goode says, “It would be nice to see a Stillman runner at the Olympics. I may have one or two runners who could make it there. As the team has become increasingly competitive, individuals have come to me asking what they can do to improve their performance because they enjoy what they’re doing and they want to win.”
Given the team’s determination and Coach Goode’s proven record of developing outstanding athletes, Stillman can anticipate another winning season next spring.
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