Anderson's optimism has positive effect on Iowa tracksters

BY DANNY PAYNE | MAY 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa track and field head coach Layne Anderson has many different strategies to motivate his team. From inspirational anecdotes to frequently used abbreviations to a seemingly perpetual sense of optimism, he always looks at the glass as half-full.

Anderson, now in his 10th year at Iowa, has coached numerous athletes to All-American and All-Big Ten honors in both cross-country and track and field. He has had good seasons and poor seasons with the team, but he prefers to focus more on the positives.

“I’ve been around this sport long enough to know, as an athlete myself, and certainly as a coach, to know there are going to be some exciting days, they don’t always come,” the 1989 graduate of the Citadel said. “But if you work hard, and do the appropriate things day in and day out, and keep a positive outlook … your chances for success are far greater than if you’re looking at the glass as half-empty.”

Perhaps one of the most impressive endorsements Anderson has about his optimistic attitude comes from Director of Iowa Track and Field Larry Wieczorek. The longtime Iowa track and field coach is an extremely enthusiastic and optimistic person and says Anderson’s arrival at Iowa was one of the best things to happen during his storied 26-year coaching career.

The pair’s similar outlooks on athletics, and also on life off the track, have sprouted a deep bond between the two. Wieczorek says they frequently support each other and bounce ideas off one another to improve the program. They have become a “two-headed monster,” he joked.

Anderson is also the head coach of the cross-country team and Wieczorek praised him for the work he has done with the both squads. He said that Anderson’s persistent attitude motivates athletes to always work through any adversity they may face.

“He never lets anything break him. That’s a very great quality to be around,” said Wieczorek, a 1969 Iowa alumnus. “We hope, and we believe, that is has a positive effect over time on our student-athletes as well.”

One of Anderson’s distance runners, Lisa Gordon, echoed Wieczorek’s statements.

“There have been times when we’re not happy with our races,” the freshman said. “He’s really good at always finding some positives for us to look at.

To effectively do this, Anderson uses the acronym H.O.P.E., which stands for “Hold On, Possibilities Exist.” Gordon says this acronym and other strategies motivate her and her teammates to perform well on a daily basis. She says Anderson’s attitude excites the team to run well during practice workouts and to do well in races.

While the team has not done as well as some would have hoped this season, Anderson, true to his form, would rather focus on the positives rather than the negatives.

“I think we’d certainly like to be in the midst of a better year,” he said. “It’s not over yet, so there is a chance to improve upon that — that’s the message we have for everybody.”

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