Today we chat with Menlo School XC, soccer and TF coach Jorge Chen. During his time at Menlo School, Jorge has accumulated many individual and team league and section championships. Over the past few seasons, Jorge has coached double CCS track and field champion Maddy Price, Footlocker finalist Lizzy Lacy, NorCal sophomore runner of the year, Robert Miranda and the 2nd place Division IV girls' team from 2019.
1) What sports did you play before and during high school? What are some of your proudest achievements in sports during your pre and high school days?
--- I played soccer, and ran track and XC in HS along with playing tons of sports just for fun! Proudest moments were in Freshman XC when we won Artichoke Invite as a Team, Coach Dooley was so proud of us youngens...Also winning CCS Top 8 in the 4x400M when we were seeded last (32nd) going into the meet, we defeated #1 seed Riordan that night...And coming in 2nd at Stanford Invitational in the 4x100M.
2) Who were the coaches that had the biggest impact on you as an athlete? What did you learn from them that you use to this day?--- I'm truly very fortunate since I've learned tons from many coaches and continue to learn from my colleagues today, but the reason why I love what I do today is because of the late SMHS Coach Don Dooley who passed away my HS Jr. Year. He was truly like a second father to me since he was very honest to us and taught us to be not only be great athletes but great people. And a young coach named Albert Caruana took over the program who I continue to seek advice and learn from as well. hahaha ;)
3) Highlights from your four-year college experience at Stanford?--- Not many athletic highlights here unfortunately since I ran 2 years of Track and due to injuries switched over to Crew my last year at Stanford. Our boat actually came in 2nd in Pac-10s for Lightweight 4+s. But I've built many long-lasting relationships with my teammates that I still treasure today.
4) How did you get your start in coaching? What was your first coaching experience and what did you learn from that first season?--- I began coaching Stanford Summer Girls Basketball Camp for 3 summers but I began to learn about coaching when I started at Menlo School coaching 7th grade girls basketball. It was a true test of patience, connecting with students, and tons of fun actually. I was lucky to have a legendary coach who I was assisting at the time - Joe MacDonald. That was almost 20 years ago. Time flies. :)
5) How long have you coached at Menlo? What sports have you coached at the school and what is the most sports teams you have coached in one school year?
--- I've been at Menlo for over 18 years now (6 years as the head of XCTF) and I absolutely love the kids, parents, and my colleagues. I've made Menlo my home and really give my all to them and try to teach my athletes to be great ambassadors of the sport as well as citizens of the community. I coach HS XC, Track and Girls Varsity Soccer along with Middle School XC, Track, Boys & Girls Soccer. One school year I coached 12 sports teams which was crazy...but I took on the challenge and it was a blast! Now I feel a little too old to do that again, but who knows. LOL
6) Who are some of your more outstanding athletes that you have coached at Menlo and what were some of their achievements?
--- There are too many to name since many athletes who didn't go on to run Track or XC went on to do great things in other sports, or in other arenas such as politics, tech/educational start-ups, writing, etc; but my main outstanding HS Track & XC athletes were the Parkers (Sam 800M league record holder & Max just a beast), Maddy Price (400M/200M CCS back to back double champ), Lizzie Lacy (D4 CCS Champ & Footlocker Nationals 10th place), Robert Miranda (top State runner in the 1600 & 3200M), and just recently Charlotte Tomkinson (800M CCS back to back double champ) & Kyra Pretre (1600M CCS champ) with a CCS Track Team Championship under their belt . I still keep in touch with them and I learn so much about coaching from my athletes as well.
7) Who are your coaching mentors that you lean on for advice during the different seasons you coach?
--- You for Track & XC, as well as great coaches like Rob Collins (SLV), Craig Lee (Pres), Ken Reeves (Foothill Tech), Chisams (Harker/STF), Frank Hunt (Aragon), Ozzie (Amador Valley), Patrick McCrystle (Bells) and many others. Also, my own staff of phenomenal coaches Sean Weeks (pictured above), Tricia Lord, Tina Lount, Colleen McGuire, Lindsay Schott, Meredith Roberts, Nicholas Chapa, Keith Larsen, Jake Fauver & Donoson FitzGerald along with many of my Menlo colleagues (Buffie Ward and the Great Bill Shine, to name a few,) who always give me great coaching advice and pointers to become a better coach. I really believe that the head coach of a program is only as good as his/her staff.
8) Aside from the training plan that they follow, what would you say are other important factors that are equally as important for athletes?
--- I believe in athletes staying healthy by listening to their bodies. And as a coach to actually plan our workouts that will fit the athletes and not the way around. But I am actually very happy that you asked this question since I believe that NUTRITION is the Key to Success in my athletes, especially female runners; and as caring adults, coaches and mentors, we should encourage our athletes to not only eat healthy but to eat enough to fuel their bodies! And another thing is to make practice fun by changing things up!
9) How do you feel you have changed as a coach from when you started to now? What do you feel like you do now that has really helped your athletes?
--- When I look back at myself 18 years ago, I just laugh at myself. I used to take wins and losses way too seriously and personally, but now I try to not only teach my athletes the sport and to enjoy it, but the most important thing I try to teach my kids is LIFE LESSONS. If I can change one kid's life through sports, I wouldn't exchange that for any trophy. I believe that my athletes really trust me that I care about them. I spend many hours doing research in running and try to teach my athletes what I've learned with a touch of fun added to it and they really digest it well with good results. Also, I'm very proud of my athletes (current & alumni) for building an amazing culture at Menlo of commitment, care & love for each other.
10) What do you feel is the most important part of your job when it comes to dealing with high school students?
--- Again, I believe my main job is to teach HS students LIFE LESSONS in order to become great & caring people in this world. To actually make a difference in this world, no matter how cheesy it may sound... :) To be a good teammate since Track & XC truly is a team sport at Menlo, and that there is no shortcut to GOOD OL' PLAIN HARD WORK! Here at Menlo XCTF, we are FAMILY!
11) What would be your advice for a young coach that is just starting out and what can he or she do to be effective coaches for their teams?
--- To not allow your youth or inexperience hinder your coaching abilities. To just truly care about the ATHLETE and connect with them first, then everything else will be added. As coaches, we are here to help the kids to learn and enjoy their journey. And don't be afraid to ask for help or advice at any time. We are all in this together to help the future athletes of this country. And one main advice that I live by as a coach is: It's all about the KIDS, not us coaches; as soon as we think it's about us, that's when we become bad coaches.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
---Thank you so much for allowing me to share my passion on your blog Coach! We have so much talent around this area and I hope we can all work together to help develop & cheer on these amazing kids. And Thank you Coach for contributing so much to NorCal HS XC & Track through this site! & HUGE CONGRATS on your CCS XC Honor Coach Car, it was way overdue. Good luck to Everyone & as my old HS Coach Don Dooley would say: GO RUN 1!
Thanks a lot for your time Jorge! AJC