Coaching Champions: Eric Frank - Creekside Boys

Coach Eric Frank has been at Creekside since the school opened eight years ago. In 2015, the Knights won their first state championship in cross country, taking home the 3A team title. We caught up with Frank to talk about this year's team, the season, and the future for the program. (Photo courtesy of Coach Frank) What kind of training did your team get in over the summer months leading into the season?

Coach Eric Frank: The young men on the Creekside Cross Country Team trained very hard over the summer. A lot of miles, long runs, tempo workouts, and bridge work. They capped the summer off by attending Brevard Distance Running Camp. 

FLR: How did you train the team in the final weeks leading up to the state meet?

CF: We reduced miles, but keep the same intensity, and added a little more speed. 

FLR: What chances or belief did you have in your team's chance and ability to win the state title?

CF: About two years ago I noticed this group was special and had the potential to do something special together. I shared my thoughts with them and they agreed. This accomplishment has been a long time coming for this group. They all put in a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication, and effort over the year to get to this point. 

FLR: What advice or points of emphasis did you give your team prior to the race or the week leading into the state meet?

CF: All season we reminded ourselves of four things that would lead to success: hard work, humility, dedication, and determination. They knew if they has this mindset they could accomplish their goal. 

FLR: What was the race plan for the state meet and how did you feel it was executed?

CF: 3A has some great teams with amazing Coaches: Chiles, Belen, Leon, Fort Meyers, Vanguard, and Bartram Trail just to name a few. There are so many competitive teams and accomplished coaches that I can't even list them all. The team knew this race would be a challenge, one they were ready to accept. This group started running cross country together and they wanted bring what they started to a culmination point of leaving everything they had on the course. Each young man was given a assignment and if they completed it we would just let the score keepers do their job. 

FLR: Who do you feel really stepped up individually the most for the team at the state meet?

CF: Each young man on the team did an excellent job. Starting at the top, Matt Clark was our most consistent runner all year. His 5th place finish really helped set the tone for the others, Joseph "Jackson" Storey had an incredible race, especially for his 1st state meet appearance placing in the top 20. Nick Deal had an up and down season where he battled injuries and illness. Nick's teammates and coaches reminded him all season that building towards the race in November mattered and to stay focused and be patient. Well he did, dropping his best time of the season and a top 20 finish. Our number 4 and 5, Brenden Urban and Reece Duff, had hard-fought races with absolutely insane finishing kicks. Both Brenden and Reece passed 8 to 10 student athletes in the final stretch, which sealed the championship. Our Number 6 and 7, Mateo Villa and Alex Bolt, ran hard, pushing our number 4 and 5 to finish strong.  Both Mateo and Alex were ready to step up if one of them had an off day.  These young men, running as a team, really running as brothers, made all of the difference in their achievement.   
FLR: What were your feelings and emotions when you realized your team had won or during the awards?

CF: Joy, excitement, gratitude, and relief. Joy and excitement for the young men, they have wanted this so badly and worked so hard. Gratitude to them, their other teammates, parents, and for all the support of our program. Relief because it was finally over. All the miles, workouts, recovery runs, longs runs, speed work, tempo runs, and interval training paid off. Their goal was reached. 

FLR: What were the biggest challenges for this year's team?

CF: Ourselves. We had big expectations for this year and at the start of the season, things were not "going according to plan." We had to rethink what was most important and make a few changes. 

FLR: How would you best describe the group of kids that you coach?

CF: Goofballs. This group loves to laugh, make jokes, and they even have made up a few words in their own language. In the team huddle, minutes before the race started, one of them told a joke only they would understand. At that moment I was confident they would win. They were relaxed and confident.  

FLR: What role do your assistant coaches play with the program?

CF: Coach Chris Navarro is truly nothing short of amazing. One of the greatest men around. He is a gift to this program.  Not only is he a dedicated and enthusiastic coach, but a devoted friend and respected mentor. We have coached together for 6 years and I cannot imagine coaching without him. 

FLR: What role do your parents have with the program?

CF: Our parents are the best. They support the program fully with strong belief in the student athletes and a shared passion for the sport. If we ask it, they do it. They are a tremendous part of the success we have had over the years. 

FLR: What are your expectations for next year's team?

CF: Right now we are going to enjoy this win, our first Boys team Cross Country title is school history. We will worry about track season and the 2016 season in a few weeks.  

Thanks to FLRunners for being great supporters of Florida XC and Track.