Greg Allan is the new head coach of the St. Thomas University’s track and field team. He replaces Alex Coffin, who resigned in December.
Allan, who is from Campbelton, N.B., has always liked sports.
“Since I have been a young boy, I have always been athletic,” he said. “I played baseball, fastball and hockey.”
Allan only started running to train for boxing when he was studying at Holland College in Charlottetown, P.E.I. He soon realized he was good at it.
“I was always faster than everybody else.”
After his graduation, Allan picked up on the sport. Over the years, he competed in 400-metre races in marathon events and in every distance in between.
He has not stopped running since.
“I still run, but I just do it for fitness,” said Allan.
Allan became a coach in November 2005 when he founded Fast Tracks, a competitive running club. It is based in Fredericton, and is geared mostly towards runners aged 10 to 18 years old.
Fast Tracks athletes compete in sprint, hurdle jump, middle distances and cross-country events.
In 2005, the club had only five members. Today, it has more than 50.
During his 14 years as head coach of Fast Tracks, Allan trained many successful athletes.
From Grades 7 to 12, Fredericton native Adam Gaudes was trained by Allan. He competed in the 400-metre and the 4×400-metre relay at the 2009 International Association of Athletics Associations World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy.
Gaudes still holds nine provincial records.
Allan also coached Sarah MacPherson, a Canadian athlete who has appeared in events across North America.
“She got a full scholarship to Tulsa University in Tulsa, Okla. for 1,500 metres and 800 metres,” said Allan. “She won a bronze medal at the last Canadian championships.”
Grace Annear, another athlete coached by Allan at Fast Tracks, picked up medals for the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds at the Atlantic University Sport and U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversty Sport) championships.
Annear and MacPherson participated in the trials for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, which were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They are currently training to qualify for the 2020 event in Tokyo.
Allan retired from Fast Tracks two months before STU athletics director Mike Eagles asked him about replacing Coffin as the Tommies track and field coach.
“Mike Eagles had approached me before, but I was not in a position to take it on,” he said.
“The opportunity was there, so I had a meeting with the team. I said I would come on as head coach at least for the rest of the indoor season and see where we go from here.”
Allan wants to improve the team despite the short amount of time left.
“I expect that by the time that we go to the AUS (championships), they will all be faster, but again, I came in late.”
Recruiting is a priority for Allan.
“It is a building year. The goal for myself and the assistant coaches is to recruit for St. Thomas,” he said.
“It is something that we have to aggressively do, because we are a small university.”
To build the team, Allan said, he seeks the hardest workers, even if they might not be leading the pack yet.
For Allan, coaching is a hobby.
“I enjoy being around young people,” he said. “It keeps me young, and I like the feeling of competition.”
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