On your marks, get set, go!

Matt McLaughlin trades in blue, orange uniform for black, gold

Emily Francis/Talon
Sprints coach Josh Harrison ( pictured) instructs runners at sprint practice. Harrison works with Matt McLaughlin incorporates more modern techniques into his style of coaching.

After 50 years of being a competitive sprinter and hurdler, Matt McLaughlin begins the next phase of his coaching career as the new sprints coach for the Oak Park Track and Field team.

In 1992, McLaughlin and his wife, Teri Mclaughlin, moved to Conejo Valley in search of a home where they could start and raise a family. They later found a home in Westlake, and have been residing there since.

Matt McLaughlin began his coaching career nine years ago for the Thousand Oaks Flyers, a track club that his daughters participated in. Later he coached for United Track club and Westlake High School’s Track and Field team when his daughter joined the team.

McLaughlin coached hurdles and sprints at Westlake and eventually became the head coach at the beginning of the 2017 season.

“During that year the girls’ team won the CIF Championship with a wonderful group of sprinters and hurdlers,” McLaughlin wrote to the Talon.

A few months ago, Oak Park Track and Field team’s head coach, Steve White, reached out and asked McLaughlin if he would be interested in a sprints and hurdles coach position at Oak Park High School.

“I know coach White from United Track club and have a great deal of respect for him, so I accepted the position,” McLaughlin wrote. “I will also be getting help from my wife, Teri, who has coached with me for many years, and brings an approach which will benefit our athletes.”

McLaughlin explained that he has studied numerous strategies of coaching, and maintains a low injury rate for the athletes he coaches. He wrote that he utilizes high intensity and low volume workouts to maximize performance while reducing risk of overuse injuries.

“I spend a substantial amount of time teaching them to listen to their bodies so they can identify the possible onset of an injury,” McLaughlin wrote. “I also believe strongly in doing correct static stretching and stretch training to both prevent injury as well as improve performance.”

McLaughlin is now accompanied by coach Josh Harrison.

“Although I would describe [Harrison’s] coaching strategies as more modern than some of the strategies I have traditionally used, we share many of the same approaches and the differences in how we coach will only benefit the team as a result of the combined knowledge,” McLaughlin wrote.

Even with the change of staff, students expressed their excitement about the new coaching.

“The coaches are extremely willing to work with each and every athlete so that they can beat goal times and hopefully go to state by the end of the season!” sophomore Jordan Julius wrote to the Talon. “As a team, everyone is working so hard and the results will soon show.”

Before the season began, McLaughlin stated that he was looking forward to not having to be the head administrator of the team, a responsibility that comes with being head coach.

“The joy the athletes feel when they improve is why I coach. It is also the reason I never stop looking for ways to improve what I do,” McLaughlin wrote.