Walla Walla University Cross-country Coach Daniel Solis explains his coaching philosophy and goals as the season comes to a close.
WWU: What drew you to coaching the cross-country team here at WWU?
Daniel Solis: Since 2002 I have been coaching track and field and cross-country at Rogers School, Walla Walla Valley Academy, and College Place High School. During that time my teams have won nine championships. Numerous runners have qualified for state championships. When I was invited to coach at the university, I felt challenged to test those training methods at the next level.
WWU: What are your goals for this year's team?
Solis: My goal is steady improvement. I never expect an athlete to be somebody else. I do expect them to be the best athletes they can be. I believe that with hard work our men’s team will move into the middle of the Cascade Conference in only their second year.
WWU: What is your coaching philosophy?
Solis: My coaching philosophy is work really hard and have fun. You can have fun without winning but you won’t win if you’re not having fun. It takes a special, self-disciplined person to run cross-country. You have to see fun in the intense hill training, the long mileage runs, as well as the drills and strength and conditioning. Those who do enjoy it become the best conditioned athletes on campus. Be the best you can be is my enduring mantra.
WWU: Do you have a motto you say to the team to inspire them before they compete?
Solis: “Have fun.” Other than that, nothing perpetual. I have a student that yells, “Coming in hot!” when he approaches the finish line in our hill training. Since we were competing at our last meet against the University of Oregon, known as the Ducks, I did tell him, “Okay, let’s see you roast some ducks.”
WWU: Are there any specific things fans will enjoy seeing unfold this season?
Solis: Fans will enjoy seeing the rapid improvement in our athletes. The lady who is probably my fastest female athlete was likely surprised that she made the team. At spring tryouts she failed to complete the course and threw up after completing only three-fourths of the race. However, I saw, in the distance she ran, significant potential. I am not surprised to see her emerge as our probable leader. I can say similar things about most of our athletes.
WWU: Do you have any family in the WWU area?
Solis: I really enjoy my family. My wife and I have three adult children, one of whom, lives in College Place. My wife, Cindy, teaches at Roger’s elementary and gives me an early forecast about whom I should be recruiting. David is a former assistant coach for the university’s women’s basketball team and is currently working at Davis Elementary. His wife, Jaci, is a pastor at the University Church.
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Posted Nov. 18, 2019.