Following a successful stint at Southern Illinois University, where he served as the Sprints Coach for four seasons, Chidi Enyia is making the move to Altis. Coach Enyia graduated from Illinois State in 2000 and is now completing a Masters Degree in Exercise Science at Southern Illinois.
“Chidi is an experienced young coach who is eager to learn and can lead his own group” said Andreas Behm: “We are excited to bring him in because we feel his general training philosophies align well with our systems.”
We chatted to Chidi to find out more.
Chidi, thanks for joining us. Could you start by describing your coaching background – how did you start, where have you been based, and what event groups do you coach?
I started out at a young age and have been at it a little over 15 years now. The first time I really got involved in sports performance training was in 1998 following the summer strength and conditioning program of my coach at the time, Robert Lindsey, while playing football at Illinois State University. I never really understood structured training until his program. Gradually I started working with athletes in different capacities and multiple sports ranging between the ages of 8-35 yrs. After graduating from ISU in 2002, I started personal training at Bally Total Fitness in Matteson, Illinois for about 2 years and continued to train athletes independently. From 2006-2008 went on to coach the boy’s and girl’s sprints, hurdles, relays, horizontal jumps and an 800m runner at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, Illinois. In 2007 I started a track club in the Frankfort, Illinois area, Flight TC – that focused more on preparing athletes for higher level of competition for the 100-800, hurdles and horizontal jumps. It was around that time that I began to work more with post-collegiates as well. I volunteered at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois in 2009 while attending graduate school and then went on to coach the Men’s and Women’s sprints, hurdles, relays and one long jumper full-time from 2010-2014 at SIU.
Could you briefly describe your coaching philosophy?
I believe I have very structured but artistic approach like many other coaches. And I embrace artistic aspect so much because I grew up loving to draw and create things and this eventually led to a General Art degree from Illinois State University. At that time I wanted to pursue a career in Graphic Design. Even though that didn’t happen, I’ve always viewed the athletes as a canvas. In my opinion, the journey towards a finished product for an artist mirror that of the coach in so many ways whether they start with a blank canvas or a piece of work that has already been in progress. Much will be added and subtracted and it will go through a number of transitions before ultimately becoming a finished product. Also, with a great deal of structure to the training, each athlete is different the same way no one piece of artwork is the same so the process is organic in nature and must be adapted to fit the individual. I also strongly belief in drawing parallels and connections between track and field and it’s application to all other aspects of life simply because those experiences don’t exist independent of each other. And finally I think it’s important to help an athlete develop a sense of independence, responsibility and embrace their own individual power. This would be much like the super human who, at some point in their life, realizes they have a special gift that can be used to best serve them and others the greatest way possible, then becoming a superhero.
Who have you had as your coaching mentors?
This list can go on forever but to name a handful, my freshman football coach, Kurt Weigt was the first coach I ever had and arguable the most influential. He was a tough but caring individual and he had a way of helping his athletes smash through doubt to open the floodgates to our potential. This was huge for me because that year was the first I had ever gotten involved in that type of organized sport. Rod Wartman is another high school coach I had that falls in the same category as a great example of what a coach should be. Another individual is my college strength and conditioning coach at Illinois State University, Robert Lindsey. Coach Lindsey, was just an all-round great person who was very consistent in how he treated everyone. And, as I stated earlier, his training was the first structured system I learned from. Rafael Williams, Assistant Track and Field Coach at the University of Mississippi, has always been like a big brother and great friend to me for over 10 years. He is someone I go to for advice for anything, track related or not. Vince Anderson, Assistant Coach at Texas A & M, has also been a great friend and mentor for a long time. He has helped me tremendously over the years to refine my coaching and life skills and is someone who I can talk to at any time and always come away with something of value. The late Steve Lynn, former Iowa State University Head Track and Field Coach. Steve was a person I really admired. I got to know him when I was at the high school level and just remember the passion he had for coaching and the sheer joy and care he showed towards the young adults. He touched many lives. There are others I can name from my parents to many coaches and school teachers who all have had a hand in my personal and professional development.
What have been your greatest successes so far as a coach?
When I think of great successes my mind moves towards things that go beyond just the recognition of track accomplishments like medals and championships. So while I do value those things greatly, I’m moved more when someone has their first breakthrough in a race or practice, when I witness the the growth and maturity of any athlete, when I see them accomplish feats that they never believed were possible to begin with and many more. I’m very competitive in and do love that aspect but it those other seemingly subtle day to day victories that many times have the greatest impact on me.
What are the three most important attributes successful coaches share?
Tireless work ethic. I have never known a great coach who did not spend massive amounts of time and energy on their craft. Patience. The process towards any goal may take many detours but the ability to stay the course and remain composed is critical. Successful coaches are also lifetime students. We can never stop learning and no one knows it all. That desire to learn will continue to breathe life into your craft, In my opinion.
What distinguishes championship performers from also-rans?
I would say a level of focus and resolve for what it is they’re trying to accomplish. I’ve personally noticed that most championship performers are or appear to be engaged entirely in what they do day to day, on and off the track. I will say though that championship performers are also a product of circumstances going well for them and the right time and there are some things that will happen that they had little to no control over.
What is your favorite coaching book?
Probably ‘The Mechanics of Athletics’ by Geoffrey Dyson. It was one of the first books I purchased as I was getting and ended up being my main resource for a long time. It’s one of the books that travels with me just about everywhere I go.
Chidi is on Twitter. You can follow him here.