Piedmont College track and field program hopes new “mad scientist” track coach can use his original inventions to help lead the team to victory.
“Champions will always do two things.” said assistant track and field coach Brian Gawne. “Find a way to perform, and always come back against the odds.
Loading up his beloved mini-van– affectionately called The Blue Bomber– Gawne started his journey down the east coast towards little ol’ Demorest, Georgia with a single mission in mind: to turn a small group of division three throwers into champions. Though Piedmont College is a big change-of-pace for Gawne, it is far from his first time coaching.
“I’ve coached football, soccer, wrestling, and volleyball, as well as every track and field event,” he said.
Extensive coaching experience, passion for the sport, and creativity became the building blocks on which many of Gawne’s inventions were born. The throws coach is known for creating his own equipment and tools to help him instruct more effectively.
For example, the “turtle” is a wheeled machine attached to an adjustable cord which Gawne invented as a way to help train his athletes in track events such as the weighted and hammer throws. This invention also has the added bonus of eliminating potential head injuries, which come as an occupational hazard of training beginners to throw heavy metal objects.
“Coach Gawne is a damn good coach,” said junior thrower Mitchell Mershon. “He is very knowledgeable about every event, and can change how he coaches based on the athlete he is working with.”
Gawne aims to coach to the strengths of each of his athletes as individuals. His students have received his coaching efforts well thus far.
“Coach Gawne is a phenomenal coach,” said Giahnni Fernandez, a sophomore track and field athlete. “He takes his time to understand us.”
Gawne’s coaching efforts have paid off thus far going into Piedmont’s track and field indoor season. Fernandez herself broke the school’s record for the weighted throw and placed top 10 in the region. Several other athletes training under Gawne have either broken personal or school records.
“I came down here because I wanted a change of pace,” said Gawne. “But mostly, I wanted to try and give back and do something good for young athletes.”