“I want to show them they can make physical and mental changes that will positively affect their lives”
[ by Than Acuff ]
Track and field is back, just like the other spring sports that missed out last year due to COVID. And this will be the first official season that Mitchell Robertson is at the helm as head coach, since as last year was cut short.
While somewhat new to the role, Robertson is not new to competitive sports or a lot of the 24 athletes he has out this season.
Robertson has done extensive work with local sports programs through Heights Performance focusing on aspects such as modern dynamic warm ups, speed development, running form and health. In addition, Robertson started working with the track and field team three years ago as an assistant, stepped into a co-coaching role two years ago and is now the head coach.
Robertson has an extensive sports performance and coaching history having coached everything from kids to professional athletes in both the NFL and Major League Baseball since he was 18 years old. Furthermore, Robertson was a high school national champion in 2001 in the 200, 400 and 800 meters, played professional rugby in England and spent some time as a sponsored athlete on the two-man beach volleyball tour.
That all said, he is tasked with a different approach to track and field and performance-based sports at the helm of the Titans. In addition, with the season cut short and continuing into late June, Robertson has shifted his focus for the kids accordingly ensuring they develop more as athletes and people rather than posting results in track meets on a weekly basis. As a result, while there are six weekends available to race, Robertson opted to limit the team to three meets plus the state meet for the athletes that qualify.
“I don’t want to throw them into five meets where they might have a tough time and are competing more than developing,” says Robertson. “The focus on this year is flexibility and fun. Keeping expectations to a minimum.”
Among his 24 athletes, Robertson has the full gamut of abilities from kids just giving track and field a try to one athlete who already has a name for himself at the national level. In between those two ends of the spectrum are Titans who are athletic but with no true running experience or training.
“My coaching style has adapted to the team and to work with every individual,” explains Robertson. “Crested Butte is not really track and field geared. Part of it is introducing kids to the sport and working on how to get through to them. Solving the puzzle for each individual athlete.”
Amongst his efforts to get the kids up to speed and improving their track and field efforts specifically, Robertson’s overriding focus includes getting the kids to learn the mental and physical abilities and how that can play out in life.
“If you’re motivated to make a physical change, there’s a mental part that comes with that and the upgrade in confidence that will bring,” says Robertson. “I want to show them they can make physical and mental changes that will positively affect their lives.”
And while spring sports training comes with its fair share of foul weather, Robertson has made the most of it with training in Gunnison, in the weight room and even outside embracing the weather.
“You just gotta make do up here,” says Robertson. “We were in the weight room and I decided to get them outside and we were out in the mud and snow for some hard work and there wasn’t a single complaint. It was much better than trying to get them to work hard in the weight room.”
Still, Robertson does have a core group of athletes that could make some waves at the state level and intends on getting at least one relay to qualify as well as some individuals to make their way to the state championships.
The Titans open their race season with a meet this Saturday, May 15 in Hotchkiss. They follow that with a meet the following weekend in Del Norte and will then take two weeks off from racing before closing the regular season with a meet in Montrose. Depending on how things flesh out, some may be then headed to the state meet June 24-26.
“They’re talented enough to pick up some stuff and pick up some medals by the end of the season,” says Robertson.