* Long-time XC coach Doug Soles, a national champion in 2016 with Great Oak, published a book on coaching in December
Photo Credit: Great Oak file
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Doug Soles started writing during the pandemic.
With time on his hands, he knew he could pursue a long-held passion project. So the then-Great Oak High School teacher, who had been coaching high school cross country and track and field since the early 2000s, decided that he would write a book.
It made sense. For years, coaches from around California -- and beyond -- had sought out his advice, a highly-successful coach who seemed to win state championships like clockwork. They asked him how they could be better leaders.They asked him how they could build culture and how to respond to difficult situations.
Writing all of his thoughts down sounded like the next evolution of his profession. So amid the pandemic in 2020, he went for it.
Nearly three years later, his project has been completed. Soles self-published 'Building Championship Cross Country Programs' in December on Amazon.
The timing, less than a month after his Herriman (UT) High School boys finished third at Team Nationals in Portland, wasn't a coincidence.
"The main reason for the timing is that I knew I had to sit and finish it," he told MileSplit recently. "After our performance at (Team Nationals), it brought me and our team back to the forefront in some people's minds. Looking at that, we did great. Some people wanted to know why. I thought, 'Maybe it's a good time to put this out."
Perhaps in some ways, it was the perfect timing. After Soles left Great Oak on his own accord in 2021, he took a gap year in coaching as his family relocated just south of Salt Lake City in Utah. He officially became a business and photography teacher at Herriman High School in 2022.
Then came his return to sports. He was named Herriman's head cross country and track and field coach that same year.
While it's been two decades since Soles first began coaching, you could argue he didn't envision the success that would come on the distance side.
Soles grew up in Western Oregon and evolved into a sprinter in high school and college. When he first started coaching in the 2000s at Great Oak, leading distance programs was a progression. But belief and confidence -- and the ability to lead -- were characteristics Soles had.
"My mindset with cross country has always been team building and an athlete-building mindset," he said. "It's not necessarily a distance-runner mindset. It's different.
"But I have a knack for understanding what it takes to be successful and win and I know how to fix the issues that may happen in a program and how to move forward. That's why we were always a great team in Great Oak. We were able to plug the holes and get back to the top echelon every year."
Few could argue that. As a coach at Great Oak, Soles led his boys contingent to a high school national cross country championship in 2015. His boys and girls teams won 15 CIF-Southern Section titles and 14 CIF state championships over his run, too. At nationals, he led the Wolfpack to six top three finishes.
So 20 years in, he felt he was ready. When he first began writing, he turned on Miles Davis and wrote 1,300 words every night, sometime around 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. By the end of the summer, he had finished the entire manuscript -- over 70,000 words. That equated to 233 pages.
Soles had some help. He picked the brain of Martin Dugard, a successful non-fiction author and friend, for ideas and tips on how to write effectively and better compel readers. Soles later decided to self-publish after some insight, too.
Soles says he avoided writing "a training book," as there are countless training books in the nonfiction and self-help space. "There's training everywhere," he said.
Instead, his goal was to speak directly to coaches. He wanted to impart the knowledge he felt has served him well over his career.
"I wanted to get into the mind of a coach," he said. "This is 'how you need to get to that level.' There are a lot of coaches who come out guns-a-blazing. But they never can get their team to state. Or they can't get their team to (Team Nationals). They might stall out through the process.
"A lot of times, they're grasping for something, somewhere, and asking what it takes to be a championship coach. I'm trying to unlock that here."
First indications have been good.
Soles says he's received some strong feedback from coaches. By publishing on Amazon, he says, he doesn't have huge inventory and can hold a little more control about future versions of the book.
And his final objective?
"It doesn't have to be a masterpiece," he said. "It just has to be something that can help others."
Where To Find The Book:
'Building Championship Cross Country Programs,' released in December, can be found on Amazon. It retails for $19.99 on paperback and $9.99 digitally.