Q&A with assistant cross-country coach David Vidal

BY DI STAFF | OCTOBER 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa cross-country assistant coach David Vidal attended Stanford, where he won two Pac-12 cross-country championships and two NCAA West Regional titles, and he was an assistant for 61 All-Americans and 11 Pac-12 championships. 

DI: California is a bit of a ways away. You spent a lot of time at Stanford University; what brought you to Iowa and more specifically the cross-country program? What were the similarities and differences between the two programs?

Vidal: I didn’t know until May that we were going to move here. My wife is a doctor, and she matched in dermatology at the University of Iowa, and we were really excited because of that. I was through my year of law school at that point when we found out. Probably one of the first things I did was call up the coaches at Iowa. Cross-country, track and field is a really small world. I’d been at Stanford for 10 years — five running, five coaching. I really loved the sport and really wanted to have some sort of involvement even though I knew I had law school. I talked to Coach Larry Wieczorek, and I think pretty much right away set me up as a volunteer coach. It’s kind of hard to compare the two different places and everything. The first thing that struck me was the team dynamic — we’re very, very similar. Goal-orientated, want be the best, do the right thing, work together, and I think one of the first experiences I had was watching an intrasquad. I remember being kind of struck it’s amazing how the dynamics of where I was kind of transitioned over and it made me really, really excited.

DI: What do you hope to get out of your time of Iowa? Is any kind of head-coach job in your sights in the future?

Vidal: Law is kind of the direction I’m going. I spent five years coaching the Stanford team, so at that point I kind of made the commitment to do law school. My plan is to stick with law, but I don’t think I’ll ever leave track and field completely. I think I’ll always be involved in some capacity. My hope is to stay involved here while we’re here, and that’s going to be a while — we’re settled here. I plan on being a part of the program as long as I’m here.

DI: What do you try to instill during every practice, especially when the team comes off a hard loss?

Vidal: I’m trying to bring over new ideas. I have a completely different experience in my running career. Nearly a third of my life was spent at Stanford for track and field. Here at Iowa, Wiz has been the coach here for many, many, many years and went here himself and ran here. I think we’re combining two different cultures, two different ideas. I went through four coaches while I was at Stanford. All very, very good coaches, but I saw a lot of different things. I think the main thing that I’m trying to instill in the team is something along the lines of culture. Their culture is a championship culture. That’s so essential in having a successful program. I think that sometimes you look through the filter at other schools and think they’re doing something different or magical. Their culture really is the same championship culture I’ve seen in my time at Stanford.

DI: You had quite a lot of success at Stanford. The team won two Pac-12 cross-country championships, two NCAA West Regional titles, and as a coach, you were an assistant for 61 All-Americans and 11 Pac-10 championships. How did that success translate into coaching?

Vidal: I think the little bit of success helped with coaching. But maybe even more so, the failures that I had help even more. Everyone goes through struggles and successes, and by having myself personally, the broad range of different experiences I can identify, probably more than they will ever know. This team really showed me something special and has really made me want to work with them more. They’ve really inspired me to want to be with them more, be more of the culture.

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