Another of the state's most successful programs in recent years has been the Girls' team at Fountain Valley HS, with that program under Coach Barry Migliorini having "reloaded" a couple of times in the last half dozen years to the point that folks are realizing that something truly special is happening at the Orange County powerhouse. The group does some serious training and Coach Migliorini talks below how he carefully guides the troops through that physically and mentally below. The program undoubtedly has more athletes running at the college level than any program in the state, with an impressive list below showing athletes were far from burnt out at the prep level at FV. From the information below I think we can all sense the great thought that goes into this very successful program that is ranked fourth statewide this fall so far and should once again at the end of the season leave the Athletic Director shaking their head as to where to put the trophy hardware that the squad is backlogging.
Congrats - good luck
1) Summarize briefly the successes of your program the last few years--
Fountain Valley’s success the last few years includes National Rankings, a trip to NTN, 6 consecutive trips to the State Meet, Two consecutive trips to the State Meet Podium, a CIF SS Championship, an Orange County Championship, two consecutive Sunset League titles, and winning the Woodbridge Invitational Program sweepstakes 4 of the last five years. Additionally Fountain Valley has amassed 19 Invitational wins and numerous team time course records.
On the lower levels, which I view with equal importance as it is the future of our team, the junior varsity has finished the Orange County Championships in the top 3 all six years winning the county championship twice, three consecutive Sunset league JV titles. During the last five years our frosh/soph has combined for 10-0 records at Mt. SAC, bringing home 7 sweepstakes trophies. The frosh/soph has also finished top 3 at the Orange County Championships during this span bringing home the championship twice in the last 3 years. Additionally the frosh/soph has won five straight Sunset league titles, and has 36 invitational wins.
Another sign of the programs success is the amount college athletes Fountain Valley High School has produced.
All of the above are the fruits of our work the real sign of success is our summer mileage. If the team works harder then any team has ever worked before, we know we are prepared for the season and can be proud of where ever we finish. Win or lose.
2) How did you become involved at Fountain Valley HS and evolve to the position that you hold as coach there?
It’s a case of extreme tragedy bringing opportunity. One of my best friends Dan Moran lost his father in a tragic boating mishap. Dan and his father were very close, and he took it very hard. After the funeral I would call him to see how he was holding up. We spent many days that summer reminiscing over long lunches at his favorite restaurant “Eat at Joes”. One day Dan asked me how I am able to take these two and three hour lunches, and I explained being in Investment Banking for publicly traded companies, my day ended when the stock marked closed (1:00 pacific time). When he found out my day ended at 1:00 he offered me a walk-on position as the boys cross country coach at Fountain Valley. I accepted immediately with great excitement and enthusiasm, although I had second thoughts a week later after the final summer time trial. (The varsity boys ran between 18:50 and 20:00 on summer mileage ranging from 100-300 miles).
Three years later Fountain Valley hired a full time AP history teacher and cross-country coach Martin Baratti. Martin Baratti took over as the program director. A year later Dan moved over to Santa Ana Valley, and the Program director Martin Baratti, became the boys head coach, he offered me the girls position which I was extremely reluctant to take. I honestly didn’t think I could coach girls; I hated the thought of being a girls coach. I felt girls coaches were psychologist first, social coordinators second, and hopefully coaches third. I couldn’t understand why girls got together to make hair ribbons, why they need extra time to dress out, why fast girls had to run races next to their slow friends who hated running, why girls would slow down not to take each others Varsity spots, why they would get teary eyed when you corrected them. I honestly don’t know how I survived the first year. That summer I got some great advice from Esperanza’s Rich Medelan, and learned a lot about coaching girls at a clinic by Mrs. Zimmerman. Since then it has been an absolutely great experience.
3) What are the general personality characteristics that are different about this year's group than maybe the previous year or three at the school?
This years group probably has less actual varsity race experience then any group I’ve ever coached, and that was a real concern starting the season. We lost four of our top five from last year’s team, so went a lot of leadership and experience. This senior class is however the most intelligent group of young ladies I have ever worked with which says a lot since the last 5 years varsity CIF grade checks yielded no team with a GPA less than 3.8 and three years were over 4.0. It’s an analytical group that understands splits, base, and has a great desire to win coupled with a relentless work ethic. This year’s seniors did an outstanding job leading the returnee’s through the summer. We also have 6 underclassmen that have run on varsity so far this year, giving us a little depth. The younger athletes are shyer and more reserved this year than past years. We have a summer camp I affectionately call “the lock in”. The purpose of the lock in is bonding and to teach the athletes more about running. We bring in key note speakers, including Olympic athletes, doctors and nutritionist. This year Steve Scott came to speak. We have games that teach the girls to be competitive, aggressive and fearless during competition. In the past the games would have to be broken up to keep two very aggressive athletes in check and as friends. This year the freshmen and sophomores did not get into the games as they did in past years, but I am hopeful the longer they are in the system the more competitive and aggressive they will become. Other than that the personality is stasis quo, we are a family at Fountain Valley, everyone knows their role and responsibility, and we all route for one another.
4) What was your athletic background when you were growing up?
Little League baseball growing up, as a freshmen at Fountain Valley High School I did everything, Football, Baseball, Soccer (The girls on my team should never know this fact) Cross Country and Track. Back in the good old day’s sports were free, and coaches didn’t expect you to give your life to one sport , after practice I would come home and play with the neighborhood kids. We would play baseball off the garage door or football in the street until the street lights came on. When it rained we played pong . By my sophomore year I was only running cross country and track (off season cross country without hills). After high school I ran for Larry Knuth at the University of Southern California.
5) What drew you to coaching?
6) Who has influenced you most in your coaching?
The great Joe Newton. When I entered coaching the internet was just beginning, it was dial up, there were no good search engines and pages took tens of minutes to load. So I did things the old fashioned way. Bought, checked out, and read lots of books. One of the prefaces really caught my attention. The book was successful High School coaching by Joe Newton. He had won about 30 state titles, and over a dozen national titles. It didn’t take me long to realize I would have to win every State title consecutively till I was 70 years old to equal his accomplishments. If someone could win over the duration he must have a system that worked. After reading his book, I flew to Illinois to meet Coach Newton and pick his brain about the vague spots in his book (interrupted runs etc.) He graciously shared with me what he did, how and where he did it, what he learned about mileage and speed from Peter Coe (Seb Coes father and Coach) and later introduced me to Dr. Joe Vigil in Arizona who explained the science behind VO2 max.
We have used Newton’s system over the last six years but after reading “Running with the Buffaloes” and the Gerry Lindgren story we have started phasing in a hybrid style that mixes Wetmore, Newton, Vigil and Lindgren training.
Other people that have influenced my coaching and coaching beliefs are Joe Kelly of Peninsula, and John Wooden of UCLA
7) You do a good amount of mileage with your athletes during cross-country. What do you do outside the actual running itself that make it possible for them to cope with the heavy training load?
From the physical side we monitor ow-ees (little pains before they become injuries), we track mileage on training shoes, take ice baths daily, run long warm-ups and cool downs, stretching after practice as well as before, daily lactic acid rubs, and make the pool available for rehab or recovery runs. I beg the girls not to run at all on Sundays on their own or otherwise. It is truly a day of rest and recovery for us.
From the mental side you have to make things fun and light hearted, hundred mile weeks will eat you up mentally if you are not enjoying practice. I have lots of fun little sayings that keep things light hearted; we do 100 pushups before practice, I call this “happy time” I also refer to the hard part of the work out as “happy time”, the girls carry two pound pink hand weights on distance runs we call these “pretty pink sticks”, when they ask me a question that the answer is no, I say “let me think about it (2 second pause),,,NOOOOO. They don’t let me hear their music, because I change the words and sing them back regularly in my horrific voice. Among my favorites are “girls don’t like boys, girls like hills and repeats”- good charlotte, and “Don’t cha wish your coach ran a stop watch like me, don’t cha”-pussycat dolls. It’s all meaningless but it keeps grueling work bearable and lighthearted.
We also incorporate a lot of outside activities in running. We do a 12 mile run to soak city then spend the day there. We’ll do a 15 mile run to wild rivers; Additionally I’ll take the top mileage girls to Palm springs to run Frank Sinatra Hill. (Nothing is better then running mile hill repeats uphill in 100 plus degree weather)
Above and beyond the physical, mental, and fun, the athletes have to know you care about them. Not care about them as great runners, or varsity runners, but care about them as people. You have to make it your business to find out how they are doing in school, how things are going at their home, what their other hobbies are, what makes them tick, you must always be honest with them even if its something they don’t want to hear, and you need to be there for them whether or not the issue is running. If you are a family instead of a team, they can handle anything you throw at them.
8) What are some of the good and bad points to training in the area around Fountain Valley?
Good points: Great-people, my home town, my alma mater, my kids ran for the team. No feeling more special the winning for a community at a school you attended.
Bad points: The geography in and around Fountain Valley is horrible. Sometimes I drive through areas and am envious of all the trails and hills. The closest thing we have to a hill is a Freeway overpass, unless we want to run 7 miles round trip to Edwards hill which is a whopping 530 meters long. We are also land locked with no dirt trails and concrete in every direction, and since the school is 45 years old we have a brick dust track that packed like concrete. Since none of those are in my control I don’t dwell on them, the nice thing about running is there is always somewhere to run.
9) What advice would you have for a beginning cross-country coach?
Learn as much as you can. Take a sincere interest
in your athletes. Enjoy and make the most of every second of every
day, the innocent
wide eyed freshmen turn into young men and young women so fast. Before
you know it they are driving, then off to college, and then starting
families of their own. I once asked Joe Newton when he was going
retire; he said “If you can walk away from coaching you should”.
is published by
For questions or comments about content, contact the editors: Rich
Gonzalez and Doug Speck
DyeStat is published by Student Sports ©1998-2006