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Cleare adjusting to collegiate coaching

Coach George Cleare got his first taste of indoor conference championships action this past weekend, when the Georgia University Bulldogs competed at the Southeastern Conference(SEC) Championships.

As the assistant coach for women’s sprints, relays, jumps and multi-events, Cleare helped the Bulldogs to a sixth place finish in the women’s standings. The title was won by Louisiana State University(LSU), which scored 135 points. The University of Arkansas and Tennessee were second and third with 118 and 78 points respectively, and rounding out the top five positions were the Auburn Tigers and the University of Florida. The Tigers scored 57 points and the University of Florida Gators scored 55 points.

“Indoors were fast-it was a blur. Everything was happening so quickly,” said Cleare.”A lot of teams were very well prepared. There are schools which really attack indoors. This is because there are different make-ups of the schools. We have some schools that are basically sprinting schools, so they put all of their focus and attention on track and the sprinting events, so the indoors they tend to be very strong.

“Georgia has always been known as a field event school, so most of our major events are like discuss and javelin. Those events you don’t contest indoors because of the limitation of space, but we finished sixth at the conference, out of the 12 schools that competed. We were one point behind the University of Florida who were fifth and three points behind Auburn. This is without us having our strongest events being contested. We look to be in the rankings in the outdoor season.”

Cleare joined the team of elite coaches at the university late last year. He is now the fourth Bahamian male coach, working in track and field at top Division I colleges, in the United States of America. When he first landed the job, he described it as a”dream come true”.

The International Association of Athletic Federations(IAAF)Level IV coach and a Level I Certified Lecturer was eager to jump into action for the Bulldogs. So far, Cleare said he has adjusted to the program.

He said: ”Basically a lot of it has been a learning experience rather than training so much. Working in The Bahamas with different teams, training and coaching national teams like CARIFTA and other meets, I don’t think the training is that much different. It was the administrative part of it, just dealing with office procedures, NCAA rules and all those other technical things, that was the biggest adjustment. I was in different meetings and took exams to make sure that I am certified to be a recruiter. That was tough and probably the biggest transition. It is not like in The Bahamas where you just train the athletes and they compete.

“The athletes have adjusted to me pretty well. I came in kind of late, so I just didn’t want them to jump right into my system. I just kind of integrated what I wanted them to do into the system they are already used to. So, slowly but surely we are closer toward my style of coaching, but alli-in-all, it has been a good experience.

“I have had the opportunity to work the sprinters, horizontal and vertical jumpers and athletes competing in multi-events. As far as coaching experience, it is good that I had a background and that I was working with athletes and coaching back home. The fact that I lectured was also good because it helped me a lot-having a background on the different events. I am coaching in different areas and I am very comfortable and happy with it.”

The Bulldogs will compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s(NCAA) Indoor Championships, scheduled to take place in College Station, Texas, March 11-12. The first outdoor meet for the Bulldogs will be the Georgia Intercollegiate Championships, March 19 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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