MileSplit AZ reached out to a handful of coaches in Arizona to get their reactions to COVID-19. Note that these interviews were done before the official cancelation of the 2020 high school track and field season.
Coach Cassandra Cline-Kalal McKenzie
Desert Vista High School
Q: How many years have you been coaching in Arizona? At DV?
I have been coaching in Arizona for 25 years, and at Desert Vista for 13 years.
Q: What's your brief running/coaching background?
I've been running since elementary school and was a 4-year varsity track & field athlete at Payson High school. During my sophomore year in high school, I was invited to represent the USA internationally, but my parents wouldn't let me go. I had offers from out of state university to continue running but decided to stay in-state after graduating. I completed for Scottsdale Community College until I had a horse step on my foot, and got spinal meningitis all during the start of our season. Needless to say, I stopped running for a short time. I started getting back into track and field when I met my husband Clif McKenzie.
· Level 2 USATF Certified Coach
· Certified National USATF Official, and AIA Official
· USATF club track coach for 25 years, Arizona Elite Track & Field Team
· Desert Vista High School Head Girls TF Coach, 2010-current
· Desert Vista High School Assistant Sprint Coach, 2008-2009
· Desert Vista High School Assistant Cross Country Coach 2008-2011
· Tempe High School Boys and Girls Head TF Coach, 2004-2007
· Head Women's Manager USATF 2017 IAAF World Relay; Nassau, Bahamas
· Event Manager USATF 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships; Portland OR
· Event Manager USATF 2014 NACAC U23 Championships; Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
· Head Manager USATF 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships; Lille, France
· Assistant Coach USATF 2009 IAAF World Youth Championships; Bressanone, Italy
· Women's Track & Field USATF Youth Subcommittee Representative
· Past Arizona USATF Youth Chair
· Past Arizona USATF Youth Official Rep
· Past USATF Youth Committee At Large Delegate
· Past USATF National Youth Coaches Association Secretary
· Past Boys 5A representative for Arizona Interscholastic Association
· 2014 USATF and Cross Country Coaches Association Girls TF Coach Of The Year Arizona
· 2008 National Youth Chair Award Recipient
Q: What has been the level of disruption to athlete training and competition because of COVID-19?
The level of disruption has been zero contact with athletes in person. There has been no competition and no practices.
Q: What have you been telling your athletes during this time? Are they on some sort of modified training regimen?
I have encouraged athletes to stay active, try to keep some normality in their daily routine. They have been provided activities that they can do on their own.
Q: How do you keep athletes motivated during this time?
I stay in contact with them via text messages, just to check on them. Yes, we want them to stay motivated, but more importantly health and safety. This can be a scary and emotional time, so I try to remind them to work out for themselves right now.
Q: How are your seniors handling this situation?
My seniors are upset. They only had a couple of opportunities to compete this season. I have reminded them everyone is in this situation, and we can't control what is happening around us right now. Control the controllable, and that does what you can for workouts, and stay safe.
Q: What, if anything, is positive that may come from COVID-19, that you have witnessed or heard in regard to your team/athletes?
The only positive if an athlete had an injury this has allowed time to heal. Besides that, they are upset.
Q: What are your thoughts about a high school season this spring? If there is track by late May/June, are you going to suggest your athletes do club races?
I personally think with the Olympics being postponed, college season's canceled, national championships being canceled, the AZ track and field season is over. Right now with the way things are going I don't even see an AZ USATF season. If there is a club season, and we have time to train, yes I would like to see athletes compete.
Q: What's been the biggest challenge for you as a coach during this time?
Not being able to do something I have a love and passion for.