Cranford Cougars Cross Country Coach John Schiano is looking to lead his team to another state sectional title when they compete tomorrow morning at Warinanco Park. The coach said he is proud of the accomplishments of both the boys' and girls' teams and is confident in their abilities to continue their success.
A math teacher at Cranford High School, Schiano earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. and went on to obtain a master's degreein mathematics and mathematics education from SUNY Albany. He has been coaching cross country and track and field since he came to Cranford in 2006.
Schiano, who was given the school board's "Coach of the Year" award earlier this year, said the Cougars have "had a tremendous amount of success and look very strong headed into the championship season. Veteran runners have shown big improvement and growth from last year and our new runners have made major gains since the season began."
"The dual meet portion of our schedule was a big success as athletes registered huge (personal records) over the course of the season. We started off our championship season with a big bang at the Union County Conference meet as the girls placed third, beating rival Arthur L. Johnson High School (Clark), while the boys won their first Conference championship since 2004," Schiano said.
Cranford Patch asked the coach a few questions about his team, coaching style and goals for the future.
What is your proudest moment as a coach?
My proudest moments as a coach were the team titles we have won over the past three seasons. The 2009 and 2010 State Sectional meets and the Union County Conference meet from this past week will be moments that I always look back fondly upon. They were complete team efforts where the kids all worked
together to achieve their goals. It has been a very humbling experience and I am fortunate to be part of something so special. I am thankful that the kids will be able to walk away with memories that will last a lifetime. I am grateful to be involved with such a fantastic group of individuals.
What do you tell athletes who may be struggling, in order to inspire them?
We always tell athletes to be patient and stick with it because their time will come. If they stick with the plan the results will show. The key is not to press and simply let the race come to you. We always take a positive and encouraging approach with the athletes and they continue to respond well.
If you weren't coaching right now, what other profession would you most like to have and why?
My alternate career choice would be something in a mathematics or statistics-based field as that has always been my best subject. However, teaching has always been my passion and coaching is a very nice bonus at the end of the day. I am fortunate to have such a wonderful and rewarding career.
In what ways do your athletes inspire YOU?
The dedication and commitment of the athletes serves as motivation for me in life. They send the message that one should never quit and to always do your best in any endeavor. They work so hard that for me to give back anything less than 100 percent would simply not be fair.
What's your goal for this season?
Our goal is to have individuals continue to improve and to hit at least one more big PR for the season. We look to have our teams place high at the County and State Sectional meets. The girls are looking to qualify for the State Group meet for the sixth consecutive season while the boys seek their third consecutive
State Sectional title.
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