By Andre Davancens, May 9, 2023
At the beginning of the season, Bronco track and field introduced assistant coach Ian Jennings to their coaching team.
Jennings decided to elevate his coaching career and follow his ambitions by making the move to Cal Poly Pomona after coaching at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.
“The last few years of being at the community college as well as at the NAIA division, I was blessed and fortunate to be successful at both of those levels,” Jennings said. “I am always trying to see how I can improve myself, how I can get better. I wanted to take on the challenge of, ‘Can I be as good and as successful at the NCAA level?’”
Jennings started his athletic career in middle school where he played soccer and basketball, and he started to dabble in track as a sprinter.
His coach predicted that because of his basketball background, high jump would be a natural fit for him, and he was right. In high school, Jennings started to delve deeper into jumping as a sport when he started competing in long jump and triple jump.
From there Jennings continued to compete as a jumper when he began his enrollment at Cal State Fullerton. At the university, Jennings practiced under the guidance of current long jump world record holder Mike Powell.
After graduating from CSUF, coaching was not on Jennings’ radar until he ran into an old high school teammate in a grocery store. At the time, Jennings didn’t know that this encounter would send him down an 18-year coaching career.
“He asked me if I’d be interested in helping out the jumpers,” Jennings said. “I just went ahead and tried coaching at the high school and just immediately fell in love. Everything I learned from Mike Powell and my other coaches, all that knowledge I was able to share with the next generation.”
Jennings started at CPP in November of 2022, when he excitedly took the position after speaking to head coach Chris Bradford about the philosophy of the team.
“Their goals sat right in line with the goals and expectations I have for myself as a coach,” Jennings said. “With both our men’s and women’s teams coming off of conference championships last year, I felt that this was an amazing situation to come into. From day one, the athletes and coaching staff have been extremely welcoming and supportive. It’s exciting for me, coming in as a rookie. I’m the new guy and everyone is just letting me in so naturally.”
The warm welcome that the team gave him when he started coaching at CPP allowed him to connect with each athlete as an individual and push them to realize their potential.
“The challenge of coaching is getting athletes to realize what they’re capable of achieving and that it’s much more than they thought they could achieve,” Jennings said. “When you see the smiles on their faces when they get surprised, they didn’t think they could jump that or throw that far.”
When speaking on his coaching approach, Jennings explained how competition is not about the other people, competition is about improving yourself. He looks to teach his athletes how to push themselves past their limits.
“That’s where the teaching part comes in, they learn to focus on bettering themselves as an athlete and as an individual,” Jennings said. “To trust in themselves and believe in themselves, to be confident in themselves once they move on from Cal Poly Pomona onto ‘being in the real world.’ They should hopefully feel that they can accomplish whatever they set out to accomplish because they learn how to believe in themselves and challenge themselves.”
Throughout his life, the skills Jennings learned as an athlete guided him to success; he looks to help guide his athletes to form a similar mindset.
“In track, we literally have hurdles,” Jennings said. “Life throws hurdles at you whether it’s at work or relationships. How you approach the hurdle and try to overcome it, what are you doing after that? Are you continuing to try to get better or do you let that obstacle knock you down and keep you down?”
The depth of the team’s talent gives Jennings confidence in the ability of his athletes to continuously reach new bounds. As the rosters approach the end of the season, Jennings’ assumptions were proven right as both of CPP’s track and field rosters won the men’s and women’s CCAA tournaments in San Marcos. The rosters will now prepare for the NCAA championships from May 25 to 27.
Feature image courtesy of Ian Jennings
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