Meet Kirk Trent, who BubbleLIfe Media readers voted as one of DFW's "Top Coaches". In his 9th year as head coach of the cross country program at Allen High School, Trent "practices what he preaches". Trent's athletes run between 500-550 miles during the 12 week season and he runs every mile with them. He thinks that a good leader has to be out front and not just coaching from behind. The philosphy is paying off. Trent has been selected as the District Girl's Cross Country Coach of the Year for the last two years.
Trent calls Allen his hometown, moving there with his parents when he was four years old. He graduated from Allen High School where he ran cross country, track and played football. He graduated from Texas Tech University and has been teaching and coaching for 16 years. When Trent isn't coaching, he is an active runner, partipating in marathons, 1/2 marathons 10K's and 5K's. Not surprisingly, he finishes in the top of his age group in most races. Trent's wife, Catherine Manning is also an active athlete who has introduced him to competitive cycling and triathlons. The couple is expecting their first child early next year.
We wanted to know more about this inspiring coach and he was kind enough to answer a few questions:
Dawn Tongish: What is the best part about coaching?
Kirk Trent: The greatest part about coaching is working with the athletes and helping them to set and reach their goals, athletically and personally. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the confidence and pride on an athlete’s face as they cross the finish line and they have set a new personal record for themselves. I see youth sports and athletics as an important step in preparing young people for the future challenges of their lives.
DT: When did you decide you wanted to coach sports?
KT: I was in my senior year at Texas Tech University when I felt the desire to become a teacher and a coach. I was working hard to finish my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the time and it was hard to turn away from this career path. However, I knew I was being lead into this noble and humble profession by a Higher Power to serve a purpose I didn’t yet understand. It was the best decision I have ever made and I have never regretted it. Now, I see the big picture for this life change and I have been truly blessed because of it.
DT: What do you tell young athlets to inspire them to always give it their all in competition?
KT: I believe that you get out of running/life (you can fill in this blank) what you put into it. I tell the athletes if they want to be successful, they must train hard and treat their bodies like an athlete if they want to perform like an athlete. This goes far beyond practices and carries over to the other 22 hours a day they aren’t being coached. They have to make good decisions when it comes to nutrition, hydration and sleep. Letting the athletes know that I believe in them is also a huge factor because it builds their confidence, which is very important. As far as what I do or say on race day, that’s easy; I point them in the right direction and then get out of their way before they run me over. On race day, I’m not their coach, I’m their biggest fan!
DT: Why do you think our readers selected you as one of the Top North Texas Coaches?
KT: I asked a parent, of one of my former runners, why they voted for me and this is what they had to say:
“As a humble person, Coach Trent does not toot his own horn; he takes what he does seriously, full well knowing the impact and responsibility of the task at hand. He not only coaches and develops young athletes, he mentors, and he serves as a role model to mold their character into responsible young adults; preparing them for life and life’s lessons. His athletes and their parents know who he is in the classroom, on the course, and in his daily life. He is a dedicated teacher, coach, athlete, husband, and soon to be father who sets high standards for himself and expects the same of his athletes. He wants his athletes to give their best every day on the course/track and in their lives. He is an incredible servant leader, role model and truly cares about the kids he coaches. He has received awards such as the District Coach of the Year, which is a great honor, but the most important awards are the personal impacts he has made in his athletes lives.’ Coach Trent has worked very hard to create a family atmosphere for the team where the teammates support and look out for each other. He cares about his kids and they know it! They work hard for themselves and know he is behind them all the way! He celebrates their success and supports yet challenges them in their trials and failures. He is willing to sacrifice to see them succeed. He is a committed, caring coach!”
DT: Coaches are often mentors in the lives of children. How seriously do you take that role?
KT: Being a mentor is the most important part of my job and I take that responsibility very seriously. I feel that I am not called to just coach teenagers, but to help them develop into amazing young women and men that take pride in who they are and for what they stand for. I work hard at developing trust with my athletes by showing them that I care about them personally and not just athletically. It has been said that “kids don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” I believe there is a lot of truth in that statement and therefore, try to build personal relationships with each of my athletes. As a mentor, I have counseled some of my athletes through difficult times. I have written letters of recommendation to help athletes get accepted into colleges, win awards and even to receive well-deserved scholarships. I set high standards for my cross country program and hold my athletes accountable for meeting those standards. I try to teach my athletes how to be responsible for their own decisions and how to be respectful leaders in school and in their personal lives. My responsibility of being a mentor is a 24 hour job and I always make time for my athletes when they need me. I know I make a positive impact in the lives that I touch through coaching and it makes me proud when I see my athletes achieve their goals.
DT: What is the one event in your coaching career that really stands out?
KT: There are three instances that really stick out in my mind. The first thing that stands out are the athletes that have gone on to run collegiately, those that have been accepted to one of the Armed Forces Academies, based on their dedication and hard work and those that have joined the military to serve our country. Working with these talented athletes has been special for me. The second instance that stands out is coaching a sophomore in 2008, who qualified for the State Meet and finished 17th that year. She is the only athlete that I have coached who has qualified for the State Meet. The last accomplishment that sticks out happened last year when the Varsity Boys and Girls teams qualified for the Regional Meet. The Girls were District Champs for the 2nd year in a row and the Boys were District Runner’s Up. Both teams making it out of district has not happened at Allen High School in a long time.
DT: If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would those words be?
KT: Disciplined, Nurturing, Servant-Leader
If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.