With respect to the personalities and individual needs of each athlete, Coach Warren McConnell proves to be a conscientious source of motivation and self-improvement.

Five coaches pose together in MSJ garb

Track and field practices at the Mount start in the same way Mondays through Thursdays. First, there is a two-lap warm up around the 400-meter track, followed by active stretches and hurdle mobility drills.

Some point during this routine, Coach Warren McConnell arrives, his blue bag in tow, full of energy. During these drills, you can spot him cheerily greeting the athletes and asking them how their day is going and how their grades are.

At practice, he coaches athletes who compete in the hurdles, high jump, and pole vault. He carefully shows them the techniques involved and watches them as they perform, always providing attentive and honest feedback as to how they can improve.

Senior track and field athlete Will Cissell shares how McConnell has helped him to grow since he joined the team. “During high school track and field, I never had a high jump coach that was able to work with me on a weekly basis. Upon joining the team, I was glad to find out there was an experienced coach to help me fine tune my skills. Coach McConnell made the high jump simple, and for someone like myself who is an over thinker, this has helped a ton.”

Besides being a diligent coach, McConnell also has a humorous side. Often you can spot him telling jokes among the athletes and making wise cracks to get them to laugh and smile.

 McConnell says, “I try to make it fun for the athletes during challenging workouts. I want to make the workouts challenging and put an athlete on the edge of their abilities while still making it enjoyable for them.”

The athletes appreciate how he can help them push through when they feel tired during a workout. Freshman Kaylyn Mullins, who does hurdles and pole vault, is grateful for his support. “Coach McConnell is a coach that never gives up on you. Even when you don't believe in yourself, he does. Coach is always very lively at practice. Whether that be when he's trying to run against you, screaming across the track, or standing in front of the pole vault mat to make sure you go over.  He is one of my favorite coaches I have ever had, and I can't wait for the next four years with him, the other coaches, and my teammates.”

McConnell is the type of person and coach who can strike a good balance between caring about the athletes and taking his role seriously while still having the flexibility to be carefree around them.

Coach Tina Blakely, head track and field coach at the Mount, recognizes this in McConnell. “I like how interactive he is with the student athlete. He gives them clear feedback and has a positive energy that is pleasant to be around.”

Blakely met McConnell in 2014, when he was coaching at a local school in Cincinnati, and she offered him a position to coach pole vault at the Mount. He later accepted the position and became a part of the coaching staff, where he has been for ten years.

“He is able to help athletes to get better in their events because of his experience, no matter where they are,” Blakely said.

McConnell’s experience coaching track and field has spanned 50 years, and this is something that he takes pride in.

“I can draw back on my knowledge and life experience to impart to the athletes how to get better, to put the desire in them to be the best they can be” he says. “I like to help them push themselves and gain a tougher mental approach. It’s great for me to see the athletes get better over time.”

Freshman Jill Wilhelm recently started doing pole vault. She expresses how McConnell gave her the chance to try something new.

“Coach McConnell is one of the first coaches I met during a visit here at the mount. As a thrower, I don't get to spend much time with other event coaches, but when I do, I'm glad to spend it with Coach McConnell,” she says. “He is so encouraging and supportive of my throwing events, but he also granted me the opportunity to try pole vaulting. He doesn't discriminate and sees potential in every athlete no matter where their skills tend to fall. He shows up to practice every day with a smile on his face and his positivity radiates through every athlete he works with.”

His main career before retiring was as a math teacher. From teaching, McConnell has gained knowledge as to how he should function as a coach.

 “I have learned that you can’t treat people the same, in that they all have different personalities and needs,” he says. “From being a teacher, it has taught me to be a better listener because by doing so, I can help them solve their problems.”

McConnell and the coaching staff get together for meetings to discuss each athlete’s performance on the team and adjust their workouts based on whether they are achieving their goals times, as well as how to help them achieve a personal best.

“We will talk over different ways that an athlete can improve in their chosen event and discuss other events they can try that could potentially help them become better,” he says. This is another way McConnell applies his expansive coaching experience to make a positive impact.

On a meet day, he can be seen supporting the athletes as they compete and, after they finish, seeking them out and talking to them about their performance while informing them about the next steps they can take.

If there is anything you can say about McConnell, it is that he is beloved by many people on the Mount’s track team and is an irreplaceable member of it.

Blakely states, “I aspire to have the knowledge and coaching experience he has. I admire the energy that he brings to practice and his desire to impart knowledge to the student athletes. He displays dedication and humor that is at the core of who he is as a person.”

Cissell would agree with Blakely in how McConnell is fully committed to helping the athletes he coaches be successful, not just on the track.

“Coach McConnell brings an energy to practice that is simply unmatched. The amount of passion he has for the sport and willingness to make you a better athlete makes him a special coach.” Cissell says.  “Being the only high jumper my junior year, I spent a lot of one-on-one time with him, and he always made sure I was doing well in school and in life. He sees the potential in all his athletes and will do whatever it takes to help them accomplish their goals.”

Mullins reflects on how she has improved in just a few short months due to his coaching. “Through just these first few months practicing with him, he has helped me become a better hurdler and pole vaulter. I developed a love for pole vaulting that I would have never had if it wasn't for him. If he didn't continuously push me, I would not be the athlete I am now.”

McConnell coaches for the student athletes, not himself.

“I like being around younger people because it keeps me young too. I’ve been quite happy here working with the coaches and athletes,” he says. “It’s rewarding to me when I see people that I have coached that have graduated and became successful. I hope to make the athletes’ lives on this team better and more fun.”

After practice is over, McConnell packs up his things and departs. But you can always count on him to arrive the next day, bringing his energetic and caring nature to serve the team in the best way possible.

In Photo: (from left to right) Assistant Coach Warren McConnell, former Assistant Coach Sam Fowler, Head Coach Tina Blakley, former Assistant Coach Will Buelsing, Assistant Coach Casey Bell