Coach Gags Continues to Push Athletes Toward Olympic Dreams
Aug. 22, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the track and field portion of the Olympics began over the weekend former Georgetown University track and field coach and GU Hall of Famer Frank Gagliano had a special interest in viewing.
In his current role, Gagliano works with post-collegiate athletes at the Nike sponsored Oregon Track Club, in Eugene, Oregon with the goal of preparing them for big-time international competition.
"Being in an Olympic year is very exciting, the pressure is unbelievable because you're dealing with 20-plus athletes," Gagliano said. "The intensity is magnified. I wouldn't be coaching all of these years if I didn't enjoy that part of it. As I get older it gets tougher, but I enjoying helping these athletes get through this pressure"
Gagliano, referred to affectionately as "Coach Gags", left the Hilltop in 2001, but was not content to rest on his 23 BIG EAST Conference Championships, so he first moved to Palo Alto, California. While there, he coached at the Nike Farm based at Stanford University to train post-collegiate athletes bound for international competition.
His coaching paid dividends, as two Gagliano-coached athletes reached the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, including Jonathan Reilly (5000m) and Nicole Teder (800m). He moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2006, where he continues to have success helping the elite athletes take the next step.
"We were very successful in the Olympic trials this year," Gagliano said. "Nicole Teder made the Olympic team, again in the 800 meters, Nick Symmonds in the men's 800 meters and Christian Smith in the men's 800 meters."
Seven years after leaving the Hilltop, Gagliano noted that there are differences between working with athletes on the collegiate and post-collegiate levels, but essentially, as a coach, Gagliano has to work with his athletes the same way on the track.
"In college you had everything set, you had everything given to you," Gagliano said.
"Post-college you have to do a lot more on your own, I think the intensity is a lot more because they're professional runners and they don't have to worry about academics, but the training system is still the same."
Coach Gags has kept one principle of training in mind over time.
"I really believe in the idea that strength plus speed equals success and I keep preaching this in my coaching philosophy to be patient," Gagliano said.
Gagliano's initial foray into the world of track and field came as a javelin thrower at University of Richmond, something he did in addition to playing football. Originally expecting to be a football coach after college, he started out coaching high school track and field in 1960 and decided, after several years, to "stick it out." Close to half a century later, Gagliano has been one of the most successful in his field, but he has remained grounded.
"The type of coach I am today is because over the years I've dealt with success and I never let that go over a certain line because you also have to learn to deal with failure and not performing up to your ability," Gagliano said. "As a coach you can't get too cocky once you're on top"