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Veteran track coach contributes to development of athletic talent

FeaturesVeteran track coach contributes to development of athletic talent

For decades, the Brantford Track and Field Club (BTFC) has provided athletes an opportunity to train and excel in a variety of track and field disciplines.  

Marqus Daniel, who has been one of the principal coaches for the BTFC for over a decade, explained a little about the organization.

“The Club has been around since the early 60s [and has helped] train athletes in all disciplines, from jumping, throwing, long distance, running and sprinting. It’s a non-for-profit organization [and] it’s 100% run by volunteers. All the members including coaches and all the board members, are volunteers,” Daniel said. “We train athletes 11 months of the year [and] the only month we take off is August. There are three main seasons; we have our cross-country season, which is in the fall and in the winter time we have our indoor season [and] we do races indoors. And then we have our outdoor season, which is during the summertime.”

Before becoming a coach, Marqus spent years developing his talent on the track. He was a part of the Branford Track and Field Club for several years, and also found success in relays for the Assumption College team. Photo courtesy Marqus Daniel.

Along with Daniel, there are multiple coaches who are dedicated to the development of the athletes.

“Right now, we have Josh [Bolton] and Chiara [Carinci]. They take care of our high school long distance program, which is everyone in 800 meters and all the way up to 3000 meters. I take care of the high school sprinters and the jumpers [and] anyone that runs 100, 200 and 400 long jump and triple jump. And then we have Jennette [Howe], Tamara [Robb], and Brent [Hutchinson], who all coach at the MTA level [who are comprised] of elementary school kids, and they coach all the disciplines,” he said.

Daniel, who also currently coaches at Assumption College in Brantford, has himself come from a competitive track and field background.  

“I ran in the [BTFC] around 2006 and then I went to school in Niagara [where I] ran for a club called the Niagara Regional Athletics for a few years. After that, I came back to Brantford and I started coaching, “said Daniel. “When I was in college, I was a guide runner for the national development team [and coached] a student at the W. Ross McDonald school. We got to travel around and go to some big competitions, which was fun. I’ve now been coaching for 12 years with the Brantford Track and Field Club.”

Daniel is with the 4x200m U20 team that won gold in the 2024 Nationals in Montreal. Photo courtesy Marqus Daniel.

However, many of the athletes are children and teenagers who have thrived in the club’s supportive system; some have even continued their track careers in the United States.  

“For many of the kids in the club, they are already affiliated with a high school, but they get their main track and field training from us. They have a very short season at high school, only four weeks long, but it is important for them. They like doing it,” explained Daniel. “Over the last 15 years, we’ve had quite a few athletes go down to the States [and] the majority being from our distance and throws programs.”

Every year around March break, Daniel brings athletes from the BTFC as well as other clubs to Florida to participate in various training activities. Photo courtesy Marqus Daniel.

Along with training that is done locally, Daniel has also made sure to enrich his team with new experiences, bringing them to Florida around March Break each year.

“I take a group of athletes from our club down there and we team up with an elite track club. They have an amazing coach there named Steve Fife of Thorold Elite, and he’s the organizer. We have to do a lot of cross coaching, so I’ll coach all the sprinters [and] he’ll take the jumpers and different athletes. Other clubs are also invited down [and help to] take care of different disciplines…there’s a coach named Ray Riley, who runs a club called Invictus Hurdlers and takes care of those in that discipline,” Daniel said. “All the teams contribute, and I’m trying to actively recruit a few more coaches and clubs to come with us next year. It’s a really fun trip, and we get to do a lot of different things with different clubs.”

At the 2024 BTFC banquet, 14 awards were presented including to Philly Van Nooten and Kathy Mantel, who won multiple honours. Photo courtesy Brantford Track and Field Club.

However, Daniel has continued to focus on getting more coaches involved with the BTFC.

“One thing that we really need is coaches. We need people to step up and volunteer as coaches, even if they don’t have a lot of experience. We have a lot of great coaches within the club that can train them,” explained Daniel. “There’s no shortage of athletes as Brantford is growing [and we are] getting stronger athletes that are faster and that want to run; so, we need coaches to help them develop.”

Nevertheless, the club continues to help talent who are aspiring to compete on either the national or international stages.

“The future is really bright…we have a lot of really great athletes in the club. We have some that are going to Nationals in July [and] we have two more trying to qualify. And this is actually at the same time that the Olympic trials are happening. So, we’ll get to watch the Olympic trials with all the Canadian Olympians, which is going to be great. That’ll be a lot of fun,” concluded Daniel.

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