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Q&A With 2022 Junior Coach of the Year, Carl Jones

By: Angelina Palermo  December 26, 2022

How one coach is inspiring the next generation of track racing champions.

Carl Jones, an experienced track racer himself, has been running the youth cycling program and new rider classes at Alkek Velodrome in Houstin, Tex. During this time, he has inspired and led many to National Championship titles.

Why did you get into coaching?

I started track racing myself in 1995. After a few years, I decided to go back to finish my degree in the early 2000s and I decided to go for Kinesiology/Physical Education. I was going to

school between 2003 and 2005 at the University of Houston for Kinesiology, Movement and Sports Studies, and I was track racing, and working as the riding programs supervisor for the Alkek Velodrome. I graduated Summa Cum Laude and Kinesiology student of the Year for 2005. Pursuing my degree allowed me to apply my studies to this sport. It was a coaching program, so I fell naturally into coaching cycling. I've continued to be the head of the coaching programs at the Alkek Velodrome and am on the Board of Director for the track.

What made you choose to coach juniors?

I have worked with, and continue to work with adult riders, but I noticed a distinct difference in the riders early on in my coaching, especially in track cycling. Adults were always comparing their cycling and bringing in biases from their previous cycling pursuits, but juniors had no preconceived notions about what they were learning. Juniors enthusiastically follow the training if it is fun, challenging, and rewarding. I love this fact. I prefer juniors because it is so rewarding to me to show younger riders how to do this sport and see them achieve personal successes. And, with juniors there are so many personal achievements all the time. Working with juniors is always fun!

What do you believe are some important qualities to have as a Junior Coach?

Main qualities for a junior coach are selflessness, perspective and patience. A starting junior rider is not an elite rider, and they need to be brought along at their pace. It's not what the juniors can do for you or your program, it's what we can do for them. To me, bringing as many kids as possible to experience this sport is what I want. I celebrate a new rider's first racing experience, the same as a more experienced rider's medals at nationals.

Finally, what is your number one focus for the upcoming year?

My number one focus for the upcoming year is to continue to grow the Junior Track Program at the Alkek Velodrome back to our pre-pandemic numbers. More kids equal more fun! I want to have fun too.