Monday, June 17, 2013

From the Advocate Messenger: Reedus Thurmond enjoyed instructing at Maximum Velocity camp

Reedus Thurmond found himself in good company last week, and he has his wife to thank for it.

Thurmond came to the Maximum Velocity Track & Field Academy at Centre College because his wife could not, and he found himself surrounded by former athletes who have competed at the highest level of the sport.
Thurmond, who has impressive credentials of his own as a Southeastern Conference champion and three-time All-American in the discus, said he was impressed by the Centre camp and the all-star roster of instructors.

“I’ve been to track camps all over the country, but there’s definitely not many like this that I know of with the caliber of athletes (that are here). You’ve got world-record holders and gold medalists and just all kinds of stuff going on here. This is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Thurmond said before the camp ended Saturday.

Thurmond’s wife, three-time Olympic discus thrower Aretha Thurmond, worked at the camp two years ago but could not return this year because the date fell too close to the U.S. track and field championships.

“She likes to work with young kids, I like to work with young kids ... so she asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said, ‘Sure,’” he said.

He said he has worked many camps, but none can match the level of instruction young athletes are getting this week.

“You actually learn from people that have gone through it, not just coaches. These are people that have done it at every level and the highest level, and that’s what’s really cool about it,” Thurmond said.

“I’ve never been on an Olympic team. My wife’s been on four of them and I’ve seen it through her eyes, but I haven’t seen it through the eyes of medalists, and just to meet people like (sprinter) Ato Boldon and (hurdler) Kevin Young, these guys are the best of the best at their events, so that’s really cool.”

Thurmond won the 2002 SEC discus championship at Auburn, and he competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2004 and 2008. He focused on coaching after his career ended, and he coached 11 All-Americans in a six-year stint as the throws coach at Washington.

He works as a private coach now, and he said he enjoys that much more than coaching at the collegiate level.

“When you’re college coach you’re kind of handcuffed. You recruit and coach those kids for four years, and they either go on and do other things or they go on to the professional level, and a lot of schools don’t allow professionals to train on campus,” he said. “But as a private coach, I can take a high school kid and get them ready for college. They go to college, I can still kind of mentor them ... and then if they go on to bigger things, I can still keep working with them.

“I can kind of do things my own way as opposed to the NCAA way. It’s a lot more free for me as a coach to be able to just kind of do what I want instead of worrying about when you can or can’t call this parent or this kid.”

Thurmond moved back to Alabama about a year ago, and he said his business has grown quickly.

“It’s just word of mouth more than anything, and there’s a need for good coaching at the high school level,” he said.