* Four-time Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner was in his fourth year at Dallas Parish Episcopal and continues to work toward a future in college coaching
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The job interview wasn't really a job interview.
At least that's what Jeremy Wariner, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, remembers of the initial meeting he had with the Dallas Parish Episcopal High School athletic director four years ago, about an assistant track and field position at the program.
"It was more, 'What are your thoughts, and would you be interested,'" he said.
Makes sense. You wouldn't exactly ask what a four-time Olympic winner and five-time World champion's qualifications are, either. But for the record, Wariner was one of the fastest athletes in United States history, with a 400m best of 43.45 seconds and a career that spanned three Olympic cycles, eventually ending in 2017 via retirement.
For the last four years, while he had settled down in McKinney, Texas, he had been operating a Jimmy John's franchise near Dallas with his wife. But in December, he said, he sold it. And with long-term aspirations to coach at the next level -- in particular the college ranks -- Wariner ultimately decided on accepting his first full-time position coaching track and field at the prep level.
"I knew I had to get my feet wet somewhere," he said.
So he decided on Dallas Parish. But his story isn't unlike many other Olympic athletes who have taken the same roads toward the same eventual goal. Take the case of Carmelita Jeter, for instance. Coaching seemed to find the fastest woman alive. Or that of Andrew Wheating, who also believed high school was the first step in building coaching experience.
Sometimes you just have to clock in and get the reps.
But it didn't take long for added responsibility to find Wariner. Roughly a year after he became Dallas Parish's assistant coach, he was upgraded to the head position.
And now four years later, at 37 years old, he has a full high school coaching cycle to his name. Perhaps this year has seen his finest work -- and the most rewarding, too.
"I think I am in this moment right now," Wariner said.
This spring, he saw one of his top athletes, Jai Moore, have the best season of his career. Wariner led Moore to his his first sub-11 time in the 100m at 10.94 seconds and a long jump best of 22 feet, 2.5 inches.
Moore finished sixth at the TAPPS Class 6A state championship in the long jump.
But he wasn't alone. There were a handful of other athletes who placed at the TAPPS state meet, too.
"It's great to see," Wariner said. "Especially on my team. From the beginning, when they first entered, to when they're leaving, I have seen dramatic differences."
But learning the nuances of head coaching also takes time.
While Wariner had been a volunteer assistant coach at Baylor University for nearly a decade and learned from legends like Clyde Hart, taking on a full-time role stewarding teenagers was a different experience all together.
Much like a precise training block, he had to figure out a specific plan, and then execute on his vision.
"My first year when I was an assistant I had some ideas, but I don't think they worked too well," Wariner said. "But I was lucky. I was still communicating with (Baylor) coach (Michael) Ford and got advice from other friends. Mostly to see they recommend and try it. And if it works, great. If not, we scrapped it."
Mostly, coaching high school has also allowed Wariner to develop his senses.
For much of his career, he could read his body and diagnose when to pick up and when to slow down. Now on the flip side, he's learned to read those things without actually experiencing them physically.
Simple exercises, like timing an athlete's peak for a few important weeks, were harder to pin down.
"My first year, I waited a little too late to do prep work for districts, regionals and states," he said. "This year, I pushed it back a week. Next year, I'll do it even earlier."
Ultimately, it's all leading somewhere. And Wariner, who remains satisfied with the role, is enjoying his time learning.
The interesting part, though, is that he is now at an age and a time where his past is behind him. When new athletes come into the program at Dallas Parish, most don't realize his history. Few even care, to be honest.
"Once they figure out who I am or what I've done, they start messing with me," he said. "They make it fun. We play with it."
"And then I tell them to get on the line and they quiet up."
You'd think he'd have to keep the perfect image, to portray an aura of invincibility. After all, he conquered the highest stage.
But Wariner hasn't had to worry about being the perfect Olympic figure in front of his assembled crop of athletes.
He can just be a coach.
What he can impart, though, are his real-life experiences. He knows more than most how life can come at you quick. He had broke out in a big way in his senior year in high school at Arlington Lamar and then was absolutely unstoppable in his sophomore season at Baylor, winning three NCAA titles across indoors and outdoors before eventually going on earn the U.S. win at the Olympic Trials and then, eventually, Olympic gold at 20.
That's nearly two decades ago. Wariner has now more important focuses. He's a father with three kids. His oldest is 16 and competes at Frisco Liberty -- he says he's keeping a close eye on her career, but ultimately he's taking a back seat and trusting that her coaches are putting her in positions to succeed. There are his two boys, eight and six.
Wariner is in the second stage of his own life.
Ultimately, his coaching career is just beginning, his next step still developing. He says he isn't sure where his next path might be just yet. But he's working toward a future somewhere, and he's earning his keep as a coach one day at a time.
"My goal is to move up to the college level and get a college job," he said. "One day at a university, to kind of develop a program or take a team where it was and continue the success they've had in the past."
- Coaching found Carmelita Jeter. Then she embraced it
- Andrew Wheating gives high school coaching a shot