YORK, PA - Physical.
Three of the numerous qualities that are put into a quality track athlete. An athlete that is coachable in everything they do. Someone willing to learn and improve on a daily basis, not just for one meet.
“You have an athlete that can run, jump, throw and put their bodies in awkward
positions - that’s a true athlete in track,” third-year York College men’s track and field head coach Erick Camodeca, who has recently taken the reigns of the cross country and women’s track & field programs, said.
Camodeca has been around this sport long enough to know what he sees in an athlete.
As a runner, a coach, and as a mentor, Camodeca has been successful on every stage of the sport.
“I love the individual aspect of track & field that ties into the team aspect when you can see a constant improvement because it is so definite in terms of performances on the track,” Camodeca said. “When you’re jumping, throwing, and running you know when you’re getting better and what you need to do to improve.”
During his time as a collegiate runner at Goucher College, he was a member of the school’s foursome that set a then-school-best 400 meter relay mark, while earning All-CAC honors in the event.
Camodeca’s first role as a coach came as a graduate assistant at his alma-mater. Under his tutelage, Goucher’s relay squad bested his record time.
Following his stint as a Gopher, Camodeca turned his sights on York. After being hired in the summer of 2007 he now spends his time leading the men’s track & field program while also assisting with the cross country team.
“There is so much time and energy involved in coaching,” said Camodeca. “There is recruiting and twenty different events in track and field. I need to try and be as much of an expert on those events as I can, so I can help the athletes improve.”
Camodeca has been a huge component to the recent Spartan success, and is now in his third season at the reigns. His achievements have not gone unnoticed as Camodeca was recently named the Capital Athletic Conference’s Coach-of-the-Year for 2010.
“There is dedication here. The athletes see what we’re trying to build and they are starting to believe in it,” Camodeca said. “It’s fun seeing how much these guys care about the program [like] I do.”
Track hasn’t always been in the cards for the talented mentor. Camodeca’s first passion was soccer, a sport he had played while as an undergrad at Goucher.
“My first love was soccer, I played it my entire life, and actually went to [Goucher] for it,” Camodeca said. “Track was something I fell into by accident. Even in high school I only did it to stay in shape for soccer, and I did the same thing for college but the first day of track practice I showed up to see what it was like and I ended up sticking with it the whole four years, and here I am now.”
A track can be a special place for an athlete. A track & field athlete can spend anywhere from 10 to 20 hours a week on the surface, sometimes training alone, making track a mental endeavor as much as it is a physical one.
“It is a mental sport, where sometimes you’re out there training by yourself and you have to love what you do,“ Camodeca said. “It’s a true determination of passion, because of the time and energy and some of the situations that you’re put in.”
In a sport where mental and physical preparation are everything, the Spartan coach takes comfort in the ability to watch his team grow.
“If my athletes are improving then I know I’m doing something right,” Camodeca said. “It doesn’t matter if you win a conference championship or not, that’s how I can measure my success, by seeing how my athletes are doing.”
Feature written by Garrett Wampler - York College Athletic Communications student-intern