Q & A: With track coach Darren Jermyn
Darren Jermyn caught the running bug at a young age. First trying out the sport as a student at Cyril Varney Public School, Jermyn was immediately hooked and ran his way through his secondary and post-secondary years.
After taking a bronze medal in the OUA 1,500-metre, finishing in the top 20 at the CIS cross-country championships and qualifying for both the CIS and Canadian nationals in middle-distance events, Jermyn turned his focus instead on helping others reach their potential in the sport.
Since 2000, the physiotherapist, who also owns Sudbury Running Physio, has been coaching full-time with Track North and the Laurentian running teams, alongside Dick Moss, Jim Taylor and Meghan Juuti. His athletes have won numerous Athletics Ontario, OFSAA, national youth and junior championship medals and qualified for both world junior and junior Pan-American Games championships.
Jermyn was also named the House of Kin’s Joe Drago Coach of Year in 2011. Sudbury Sports caught up with Jermyn to talk running and coaching.
Sudbury Sports: What was it about running that really got you hooked?
Darren Jermyn: I had some earlier success. I was probably a bit more of a sprinter as a younger kid. In high school, after a little growth spurt, I noticed I had some talent in the distance events. I had a few injuries from other sports and running was one I could continue on.
SS: And your success continued at the post-secondary level as well, correct?
DJ: Yeah, I ran at Western University for four years when I did my physiotherapy degree. You get five years of eligibility as a university athlete, so I did my fifth year at Laurentian while I did my masters in business. It was quite unique because I was a 27-year-old on a team of 18- and 19-year-olds, so I was definitely the old, old man. But it was a lot of fun, too. My career wrapped up shortly after that. I began coaching in 2000 with Dick (Moss).
SS: What made you take that step over into the coaching ranks?
DJ: I had a fair number of injuries that slowed down my progress and I needed a bit of a break from competing in the sport, but I still wanted to be involved so I thought I’d try my hand at coaching. I was lucky that Dick was willing to take me on.
SS: What has been your biggest success as a coach?
DJ: That would likely be the success of Ross Proudfoot. Ross now runs at an international level. He’s a CIS all-star in both cross-country and track, he’s run at the World Juniors and he’s made five national teams in the past couple years. By far, he’s had the most international success of any athlete that I’ve coached, and he continues to improve.
SS: Describe your coaching style.
DJ: I use a lot of the coaching styles that were used on myself. Dick coached me in my last four or five years of my career. It’s a very balanced approach. It’s a mixture of appropriate mileage for someone’s age — we try to ensure that kids are doing very low mileage and really focusing on quality. As you get older — your 20s and 30s — we can do higher volume, in addition to those quality workouts.
The other big concept we use is to educate athletes that you could have a whole year or two where your performance actually declines. It gets quite frustrating, as a coach as well … but sometimes it’s just natural progression that an athlete has. That’s one big thing Dick used with me and has taught me as well, that you have to have patience, that all athletes progress at their own pace. You have to teach people what they’re capable of.
SS: Do you ever get back out on the track at all?
DJ: To be honest, no. I’m more of a cyclist now, not by choice, but by necessity. Some of my joints just don’t want me to run as much as I did before. And I do miss it, but I have a lot of other pursuits. I also coach my son’s hockey and basketball teams, and I coach with Dick at Laurentian as well, so I’m coaching most nights of the week.
SS:What does your future look like in terms of coaching?
DJ: I think I will be staying with coaching at Laurentian and Track North. I like to run competitions as well. It’s hosting competitions so people can compete.