By Ryan Kaczmarski
North Olmsted native Jordan Hoppel is going into his senior season of track and field at Ashland University, and he hopes to push his athletic career to a world-class level. Hoppel sought out 2000 Olympic gold-medalist sprinter Jon Drummond, and invited him to teach a clinic last week at North Olmsted High School.
Drummond was a member of the 4×100-meter relay team that won gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
He was considered one of the world’s best runners off the starting block during his competitive years, and now Drummond is a world-class teacher who coaches for the U.S. National Track and Field team. When he is not working with the U.S. team, he runs camps and clinics all over the country.
“I try to do at least four camps a year,” Drummond said. “Of course, they vary in size and locations.
“The name of the clinic is Speed-Technique-Agility-Reaction-Training, and you take those words and get START,” he added. “Basically, what I do is take those words, and teach the fundamentals of each one of those words. We come to the track and we’ll execute those things. We also have a classroom setting, where we will do some lectures and question and answer sessions and get involved with the ideology of what we are going to be teaching. Then we go to the track and do some skill-set development and interactive training.”
There was not much time for Hoppel and Drummond to advertise last week’s camp, so there were only about six attendees, but they hope to have laid the groundwork for future camps in North Olmsted.
“I came up as a favor of Jordan, because he was interested in doing something on a larger scale, but we just didn’t really have time, because of the time of year (it is) – I’m preparing for the World Championships; to go over to Moskow with the national team,” Drummond said. “(I came to Ohio) as a result of (Hoppel) coming down to visit me at my facility in Texas – he wanted to do another session here and introduce (START) to some of his friends here. The goal is to come back in November, right after Thanksgiving, and do a full three-day clinic. We’d just like to come back here and revisit this on a much larger scale.”
The clinic is not just for track sprinters. Everyone who plays a sport in which they are running can benefit from the START program.
“The goal is to work with athletes and coaches,” Drummond said. “I get a lot of questions from athletes, but I get a whole host of different questions from coaches. The good thing is that I’m still in good enough (physical) shape to ‘show’ them – coaches and athletes alike – what I am trying to achieve.
“The thing that makes this camp unique is I spend time with the coaches and athletes in lecture, then we come out to the track and apply what (the coaches) have learned through lecture to the athletes directly. It’s not just me standing around coaching and talking.”
Hoppel has been running at a high level, both in high school and at Ashland – where the men’s track and field team finished second in the 2012-2013 program of the year standings – but can still tweak his regiment to improve for the future.
“What (Hoppel) can learn from our program is the fine-tuning, to take him to the next level,” Drummond explained. “We’re upgrading the mechanics, techniques and exercises.”
“The first day I worked with (Drummond), I did drills for an hour and a half, and that really opened my eyes to the possibilities,” Hoppel said. “Jon tells you exactly how he wants you to do the drills, and he wants you to actively make the changes. He wants you to do the drills exactly correct. That is something that is hard to do, but he is there watching you the whole time.”
Hoppel hopes his Ashland University 4×100 relay team can improve on its sixth-place finish at the NCAA Division II championships and win a national championship in 2014.