Mark Anderson: A Parents Perspective On Recruiting

While in California for the Brooks Mt. SAC Relays, we caught up with Shae Anderson to film a Workout Wednesday (coming soon). We also got to talk to the Norco High School senior's dad, Mark Anderson, about coaching, parenting, and the college recruiting process. As a former Division I athlete at UCLA himself, Mark gives some great advice for any parent looking for guidance along the recruiting path.

MileSplit: Can you talk to me a little bit about what it's been like being a coach and a parent for Shae?

Mark Anderson: When we first started that was not my intent. My intent was that when she came out as a freshman was just to be a dad, and then she came home one day and surprised me with "I'm gonna be a track athlete." She was a figure skater, so I was like "really?" So I came and watched her run in this field as a matter of fact. I watched her, and I told her mother, "We definitely need to do this." 

So I didn't know I was going to be a coach. It wasn't my plan, even tough I have the capabilities to do so. So as we transitioned after her sophomore year to coaching, it was on a limited basis. I introduced her to the multiple events so see which one she would be able to do, and she fell in love with every event on the field. I'm like OK well that'd be a heptathlete.  

Shea's a great kid she's very balanced kid as far as her ability to just pick things up pretty quickly. So that was a blast. As far as the coaching experience... father... daughter, I think I have retired at least 20 times, and I think she's wanted to fire me about that many too. But ultimately we work it well together. We're dedicated to each other--father, daughter--and it's been an absolute pleasure. While there's been some pain, I wouldn't trade in the last couple of years of my life for anything.

How do you kind of separate the two between here at the track giving here a little coaxing every now and then to then just being dad hanging out on the couch at home? Is their kind of difference? Or is it just kinda the same person? 

Out here, and even as you were here today you kinda saw a bit of the coaching dad. We kind of have a pretty light, we're light together at home, but then also serious. I don't know, we kinda flow the same way we do on the track as we do at home. Shae likes to be challenged. She likes to challenge back, so we have that kinda little edgy kinda little ya know... she says, "Well, you can't do that, and I can do that." So we have that competitive thing going on whether it's I can walk faster or jog faster or whether she can run faster. 

Pretty much what you see with us out here on the track, you see it at home. 

Awesome. How have your experiences and what you've done as a track athlete kind of helped you to be able to coach her to the level that she's at?

Yeah, that's probably been a really good thing. When I came up back in my year, "mark, set, go" was our way of training, and again I had great coaches that changed my life forever. We didn't do the same things we do now. We were not we just didn't work as much back in those days back in the 80s and 70s on the technical running aspect of it, the dorsiflex... I'd never heard those terms.

So for me as being a person who really is really highly motivated in those areas, it's been a lot of fun to work with Shae and see her apply those things so I can work on the elements from base up and were working on those things she's nowhere near. She's a little baby in this sport.

So my ability I think as her father is to look deeper than I think maybe somebody else would and to help her rest properly, and we've learned along the way too. She had a four-month spurt last year where I had to pull her back, because she grew it wasn't an injury. She grew and over that time she had hip flexors that were tight and sore, it wasn't overused... but I learned right there that, you know what, there's a time to grow, and there's a time to throw, so to speak.

I learned that rest is just as valuable as a workout. Stretching is just as important as getting strong, and it all goes together. Me being her father I think that I've had the ability to study her, look at her, evaluate her as maybe nobody else ever will, maybe the will... I don't know.

At this point, we've learned how to work together. Then the other part for me and Shae is that when my daughter says to me that dad I've got this going on I listen. She speaks very loudly with her little soft words, "Hey, I'm feeling this." When I hear her say things like that I'm more than willing to shut it down for the day. 

What's it been like with the recruiting process? You know all of a sudden she's had all of these schools looking at her? What's it like as her dad to kind of give guidance but also let her kind of feel it out and see for herself as well? 

Yeah, I know Shae is really excited about the college experience and going to college. Because I was a UCLA Bruin and went through that myself it's been helpful to at least be there by her side. I wouldn't change what I did. I think I had great opportunities there at UCLA, and it's been wonderful. The process for Shae, I would have liked it to happen last year where we had more time. It's a little bit all intense right now, so that's because we're in the biggest season of her life. We've got state coming up, then Jr. Nationals, then hopefully worlds. Her goal is to go do all those, so the whole school thing doesn't really fit in the schedule of training. We're doing the best we can to balance it. We're not taking every trip that we would like to take, but I think we're somewhat narrowed down to where we want to go I think that's pretty much where we both are in this and where she is.  

Again, it's her decision, not mine. But her mother and I are right behind her supporting her with whatever decision she choose to do.

Awesome, and what kind of advice would give to a parent or an athlete who maybe is like Shae and comes on late in their senior year, late in their junior year, and really starts exploding onto the scene, and all of a sudden has all these colleges knocking at their door? What kind of advice would you give to them?

Well I had a conversation with a good friend of mine just yesterday, and he was like, "Are you doing anything with your signing because of signing day?" I said, "No, we just aren't comfortable making that decision right now, because we haven't taken all the visits that we want to take." He was like, "Wow, but everybody else is signing." I said, "Yeah, but we can't do that. It's way too important."

I would just say for any athlete that has come up as quickly as Shae has, just be patient and make sure you make the right decision, cause it is one that's gonna be for life. You don't go and do it twice. You could, but I don't think most people would want to. And I know we don't want to. We want to make the right decision. We want it to be the right fit for her academically, athletically. We want it to be with the right coaching staff. We want it to be a family decision with our family that we can be around her. We also want it to be a great blessing to whatever school she goes to and vice versa back to her. 

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