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Track and field throws coach Craig Kinsely talks uncertain spring season

Kinsely discusses team morale amidst COVID-19 restrictions and men’s team reinstatement

Track and field throws coach Craig Kinsely ’11 joined the track and field program in December 2016. Before he joined the staff, Kinsely was the 2010 NCAA National Champion in javelin at Brown and earned a spot on Team USA in 2012, becoming the top American finisher at the London Olympics. Kinsley was also a high jumper at Brown and became the school record holder in javelin. This year will be uncharted territory for him: his first year coaching athletes that he has personally recruited to Brown. As one of the many spring sports coaches leading their teams toward an uncertain season, Craig Kinsely ’11 has been selected for this week’s edition of Coach’s Corner. 

The Herald: How has your approach toward facilitating the team’s practice plans shifted since the fall semester?

Coach Kinsely: There have definitely been a share of positives and negatives when having to constantly tweak and adapt plans within the (COVID-19) restrictions. A positive is that we are actually able to throw unlike last fall. Not only that, we are able to train for more hours within a sport specific guideline. However, given … weather conditions lately, it has been a bit difficult to respond with such short notice without the usual back-up plan. Normally on a snow day or (with) any inclement weather conditions, the OMAC would be the way to go. However, for obvious reasons with the routine testing maintaining its space, we are to do what we do best: adapt to change. So instead, we have been throwing medicine balls against the walls of the two buildings between the OMAC and the Pizzitola. 

What has the team morale been like as the boundaries between “in-season” and “off-season” have become blurred?

The team morale has been shockingly high. I think everyone is just super fired up and happy to actually have a sport-specific workout. It has been a year for some of them to finally throw, and especially now with the (first-years) on campus this has been a time where everyone has been able to enjoy what they are training for and interact with each other. 

Has there been a lasting effect on the team since Brown’s decisions over the summer to cut the men’s track and field program?

Absolutely. The team has never been closer not only with each other, but with the alumni network that has come out to support the team. This program specifically has been around for 143 years so you can imagine how many people have come and gone from the program. But since the (Excellence in Brown Athletics) decision over the summer (to cut and later reinstate the program), alumni who wouldn’t normally support us have come out of the woodwork and continue to do so after reinstatement. I think the athletes now understand, if they haven’t already, how much of a privilege it is to be a member of this program. Not only that, but throughout the entirety of the decision-making process and the uncertainty of the pandemic, our morale has been based solely on the knowledge of not knowing what you have until it’s gone. I know coaches come and go, but the alumni network established here has showcased that they will always be there for the long haul, emphasizing what we preach as a program — the sustainability in what they are building and continue to build.

As a coach, what are you proudest of in the way that your program has persisted through both the pandemic and the controversy around cutting and reinstating the men’s team?

What I am most proud of is just the team’s progression, not only as athletes but as people. I have had the honor to watch these athletes since high school and mature throughout a time that has never been experienced by anyone before them. It is so cool to see them have their roles be changed into leadership roles as they continue to navigate for themselves the new challenges that continually arise from the pandemic. You would think the biggest challenge for them would be to continue to adapt and reevaluate the situations that an uncertain season may bring. However, they are sadly used to it at this point and because of it, they are ready for anything. They continue to amaze me with their tenacity and attentiveness during training and are like sponges absorbing everything they learn and soak it in toward their performance. Whether we have a season tomorrow or next year, this process has shown me that I am confident in these kids. 


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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