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Good Sports: Talent on Track


By Paul Feinberg '85

Published Jan 1, 2010 8:00 AM



It's not as catchy as John Wooden's "Pyramid of Success," but new UCLA men's track Coach Mike Maynard has his own "four pillars" to building a track program.

Maynard, who came to Westwood from Boise State in August, had a great nine-year run with the Idaho school, including last season, when Boise State notched four straight top-25 finishes for the men's team at the NCAA National Outdoor Championships.

Maynard knows that to preserve UCLA's storied track and field success, "we have to build, retain and develop absolutely the best student athletes from here and from around the world."

He adds that it is a "testament to the previous staff" that there is so much talent — including hurdler Kevin Craddock and throwers Bo Taylor and Darius Savage &mdash on his current squad.

The second pillar is commitment. Maynard believes that a successful track program needs benefactors in the form of persons or corporations from the community, citing the Oregon/Nike connection or the relationship between Arkansas and Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods, Inc., as examples.

A top-notch facility is the third element in the Maynard philosophy. Of Drake Stadium, he says, "She's got great bones, but she's lost some of her shine. This is UCLA; this is the place where champions are made. You can go back to Rafer (Johnson) and C.K. (Yang) all the way up to Chelsea Johnson ... There's so much tradition and it's not highlighted."

Maynard's final pillar is to draw world-class track and field meets back in to the community, whether it's NCAA championships or Olympic trials or similar events.

"You invite the world in," he explains, "and then everyone says, 'This institution has arrived.'"

Maynard has added yet another layer to his formula: The return of dual meets to UCLA's schedule of competition. He says there are too many events that last all day with no clear winner, serving only as showcases for athletes looking to qualify for conference and NCAA championships. Maynard now works for the day when UCLA faces schools like Tennessee, Florida and Pac-10 teams in dual competitions.

"Those are the meets that have the greatest impact (on a program)," he says.