First-year head cross country and track and field coach Chris Buckler has been busy outside of Fontbonne's six seasons. He was chosen for two professional development opportunities with coaches or players preparing for the Olympic trials this past year and competed on the national level himself.
Master Coach Fall Mentorship
Buckler was selected by USA Track and Field as one of four national coaches to spend a week with an Olympic-Level coach in the fall of 2015 as they prepared athletes for the Rio Olympics in 2016. In winning an extensive application process with selection requirements including Level 2 Coaching Education Certificate, coaching a high school state champion, national champion or international elite athlete and being considered an elite emerging coach, Coach Buckler selected to shadow Coach Don Babbitt, Coach of the US throwers and Associate Head Coach at the University of Georgia. During his visit in the fall, Buckler saw new and intriguing aspects of the 2016 Olympic Trials training sessions in Georgia and brought this newly acquired knowledge back to the Fontbonne track and cross country programs.
"This opportunity not only allowed for my individual growth, but it will allow Fontbonne's program to grow through the day-to-day aspects that the University of Georgia instills within their program," comments Buckler, who spent three days observing on-the-field coaching routines of collegiate and Olympic athletes.
Coach Babbitt is the premier world throws coach and has coached 12 NCAA titles, 74 All-Americans, and 47 SEC Champions at the University of Georgia while being named the 2003 USTFCCA National Assistant Coach of the Year, 2007 USTFCCCA East Region Women's Throws Coach of the Year and 2009 USTFCCA East Region Men's Throws Coach of the Year. At the international level, Babbit has coached 20 team titles at the USA Championships and 46 throwers that have competed in the Olympic Games, 19 of which have won medals.
Buckler also got an inside view of elite staff meetings and discussed recruiting, coaching, philosophy and event-specific development aspects. "I was able to evaluate my head coaching style and expectations with that of Coach Babbitt's and couldn't be more appreciative of the time he spent with me," said Buckler. Coach Babbitt had just returned from speaking and recruiting in South Korea.
Spring Olympic Trials Mentorship
After his fall mentorship, Buckler received another great opportunity from USA Track and Field as he was one of four chosen for an Olympic Trials Mentorship at TrackTown in Eugene, Oregon in July.
In his second round of Olympic-level mentorship in less than a year, Buckler shadowed Master Coach Mac Wilkins, a U.S. Olympic throws coach. Wilkins was a 1976 Olympic Champion in discus in Montreal, Canada, the last U.S. discus gold medal winner. He also achieved a silver medal in 1984. Wilkins broke the world discus record four times in 1976 and was the National Champion of indoor shot put in 1977.
Buckler was at TrackTown July 1-10. His meetings with Wilkins not only included training schedules, but also the opportunity to assist with two athletes at the trials in Ryan Crousser and Andrew Evans. Crousser won gold in the shot put and Evans bronze in discus as both are headed to Rio.
"This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and hopefully I'll be able to enstill these models and training exercises into our athletes here at Fontbonne," commented Buckler.
USATF Masters National Championship
Coach Buckler performed at the USA Track and Field Masters National Championship once again. This year the event was held at Grand Valley State University July 14-17. The Indiana native competed in the shot put earning a bronze medal, weight and hammer throws for silver and finished fourth place in the discus throw.
STORY COURTESY OF FONTBONNE UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION