Eric Strand, Logan High’s head track coach, began his athletic journey at Campbell County High School in the oiling town of Gillette, Wyoming. He played football his freshman and sophomore years, with track in the spring, running mostly shorter distance sprint events.
When his junior year came around, he decided to join the cross-country team, and found his place among distance running, although track was where his real talent was, in the 800 meter run specifically. He won a 400 meter individual state championship while with the Camels, as well as three team championships, and recorded a personal 800 meter high school best of 1:52. He was also able to compete in two national-class meets.
His first coaching experience came when he was still at Campbell County. His coach founded a track camp for youth in elementary and middle school.
Coach Strand recalls, “I enjoyed teaching people something that I understood well and had a lot of experience doing.”
Immediately after high school, Strand attended Idaho State University in Pocatello for five years on a running scholarship. Strand took part in cross-country in the fall to stay in shape for the spring season. He didn’t run any faster than he did in high school until his sophomore year when he ran an 800 meter time of 1:50.19 at the 2010 SUU Invitational. Eric ended his collegiate career with an individual Big Sky Conference Championship in the 800 meter run and nine All-Conference awards.
"We are training really hard, and it is great to see that training pay off. It’s fun when I get the opportunity to run and talk with the athletes as well."
One of the best things about it, he said was all the opportunities he had to meet and run against some great people. His journey took him all across the country, in states like New York, North Carolina, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, California, and of course, Utah.
“I have been able to travel all over and see things I would not have been able to see without participating in track,” Strand said.
Upon graduating from ISU, he accepted a high school teaching job in Maryland and moved there with his family. In a stroke of luck, the school he was teaching at happened to need a distance coach for track, so he offered right away to help out. For two years Eric coached and taught in Maryland, until he decided to come to Logan, Utah to teach.
He did not begin coaching at LHS until the winter his first year here, for indoor track. At that time there weren’t a lot of people participating, so he really got to know the athletes that came out for the winter season and the three meets the group competed in. In the spring, he filled the shoes of Coach Drew Nielson as the main distance coach for outdoor, with Coach Kelly Bennett as the head coach of the team.
Strand then helped out with cross-country all season long, assisting to coach the boys to a region championship and the girls team to a second-place finish in Region XI. After taking a break during November, Indoor Track practice started up again and he was back at it. This winter, the team went to five indoor meets, in Logan, Ogden, Kearns, and Boise, with the climax of the season being at his alma mater in Pocatello, on his former home (indoor) track, a nation-wide meet consisting of thousands of athletes.
With Outdoor right around the corner, he already knew that he would assume the role of Head Coach due to Coach Bennett’s retirement. There are some small changes he is having done to the way things work for the team this year, including getting athletes to venture outside of their small pool of events and try something new, in an attempt to score more points for the team.
This year, he said in the parent/athlete meeting, the goals he has for the team are to win region and place in the top 3 or better at state in both genders, with the recent move from the 4A to 3A classification. This is not an unreachable goal looking back on the 4A State Championships in 2015 with the 5th (almost 4th) place honors for the boys, and 8th place finish for the girls.
One more addition to the program he will implement is a full team warm-up once a week to improve the “team dynamic” at Logan Track. This will be good in the sense that the team will feel like one big family rather than feeling isolated as an event group by separating every day.
On the change from Assistant to Head Coach, Strand said , “As an assistant I really only worried about the training of my group. As a head coach there is a lot more you have to do. For example, I am the one that makes the final decision with the track and field schedule. [Furthermore], I need to organize transportation, order jerseys and contact parents and athletes. It’s a lot. I love track and field, though, so it is usually still fun.”
Finally, Coach Eric Strand loves helping the athletes accomplish great things like winning races and achieving personal records. “We are training really hard, and it is great to see that training pay off. It’s fun when I get the opportunity to run and talk with the athletes as well,” he said.”
He looks forward to directing our Grizzlies to immense success this year and hopes everyone is as enthusiastic as he is about reaching that success for themselves.
Editor: Samantha Aguilar
Putting the spotlight on our own Grizzlies and their endlessly fascinating lives.