Friday, March 27, 2009

A new coach!

After an intense search, Team USA has a new coach! Canadian Mike Waddington, one of the best North American orienteers of all time, has been hired as coach of the US Orienteering Team for 2009. In order to get to know Mike a bit better, here is a short interview with him:

1) What's your name?
Mike Waddington

2) What's your hometown?
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
aka The Hammer
aka Steeltown
aka the city that most deserves a NHL team.

3) Marital status/kids/pets
Married to Starr and the proud Daddy to Emma (aka AdventureGirl).

4) What's your club?
Golden Horseshoe Orienteering. GHO formed from the merger of Hamilton King's Foresters
and the Niagara Orienteering Clubs ten years ago. HKF and NIA were the home clubs of two of Canada's best ever orienteers - Ron Lowry and Ted de St. Croix.

5) What's your birthday?
August 19, 1967. Born in Canada's Centennial year a few months after the Toronto Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup.

6) What do you do when not orienteering?
Together with my family we like to travel a lot and to photograph, hike, ski or paddle and explore different parts of Canada and the World.

I'm a Professor of Hydrology at McMaster University so get to spend a lot of my job working outdoors in places like Alaska, Alberta, Sweden, northern Ontario, the U.P., and Quebec.

7) How did you start orienteering?
A visiting Norwegian to McMaster University introduced my family to the sport in 1977. The next year my family spent a year in Bergen, Norway visiting that same Norwegian - Jan Lien. Jan has been a big supporter of the U.S. team by being a WRE advisor at a few U.S. team fundraiser events. Small World eh! After a year living in Norway I was hooked on the sport.

8) What do you consider to be the biggest successes you've had as a competitive orienteer?
From a performance perspective it would have to be my results at the North American Championships during the 90's. I won in 1992, 1996, and 2000 and came second in 1994 and 1998 (by 23 and 6 seconds respectively).

I moved back to Hamilton in 1995 and started training and racing with a great group of athletes and friends. From 1995 to 2000 and then 2004 to 2006 (I took a break from O to try out AR for a few years) I had my best and most consistent (and fun) training. During the late 90's I made the 'A' final at WOC in 1997, won 5 Billygoat races in a row and added a half dozen or so Canadian Champs titles too (oh yeah and we won a few US Club Relay Champs as well with those great training buddies in Hamilton).

9) How much orienteering do you do now that you are retired from international racing?
I love orienteering a lot and it took a serious injury in 2006 to get me to stop international racing. I needed knee surgery and my surgeon told me I would never run again. He failed to tell me I would never orienteer again so since the autumn of 2008 I have been orienteering about once a week or so. Mostly setting up races or training for GHO but also a few races here and there.

10) What are your favorite places to orienteer?
Well I do like the Dundas Valley here in Hamilton a lot but 7 of my favourite 10 maps are in Harriman State Park. 'nuff said.

11) Did you have a coach during your orienteering career? If so, can you describe the relationship you had and how the coaching helped you progress as an orienteer?
I've had two coaches during my career and both were very influential in my training and racing but also for school and life in general. As I mentioned earlier I was lucky to have Ron Lowry in my club when I was young. It was a short 500m run through the woods between our houses. Ron wrote two of the best books on training for orienteering and we had regular weekly meetings about training and probably on average two 'on-map' orienteering exercises a week. He taught me that it was hard work and consistent training that gave the results. "Nobody remembers the excuses....they only remember the results" he said. I learned a lot about the technical and mental side of the sport from Ron and gained a healthy confidence from him. But, my greatest success came from being coached by my good friend and club mate (and best man at my wedding) Mark Tarnopolsky. Mark lived directly across the street from me and we both lived a 15 minute walk to the same employer (McMaster University) so we !
had lots
of time to train and talk about training together. He developed my training into a more consistent pattern, made me tougher and stronger and taught me a lot about time management, injury prevention and nutrition. I made my greatest improvements when training with Mark in the late 90's. Mark may be one of the World's best people to talk to about performance and nutrition but it was his simple philosophy and motivation of 'just get out and train' that helped me progress as an orienteer.

12) How do you see yourself being able to help the US Team in the near future?
I teach what I was taught. Taking what I have learned from Ron and mark I hope to inspire the team to set high goals and motivate them to train and race to achieve those goals.

13) If you didn't have to worry about money or jobs, where would you live? Why?
I ask this question every time I buy a lottery ticket and it always comes down to two areas (I'm proudly Canadian):
Parry Sound, Ontario or Canmore, Alberta. The east coast of Georgian Bay near the town of Parry Sound in central Ontario is a pretty special place. The Canadian Shield rock and lakes remind me a lot of Sweden (but with less taxes and better hockey players). Rocky and sandy shorelines, great paddling, excellent skiing and the potential to be an awesome orienteering area as well. But Canmore Alberta is pretty sweet as well. I love the mountains and there is great skiing and some of the best orienteering in Canada. Wildnerness surrounds you but I think I would miss the lakes and rock of central Ontario.

14) Do you have any favorite orienteering moment or memory you can share with us?
Having Oyvin Thon (2-time World Champion) take me and three other Canadian orienteers on a training run on my home-town map when I was 19 years old following the 1986 Dundas Valley World Cup race. Very inspirational as he was my orienteering idol when I was younger. But watching my daughter win an under 10 year girls race in Upsala Sweden when she was 8 is a pretty close second.

Thanks for the answers and welcome aboard! I am sure that lots of US orienteers are looking forward to working with you and learning from your experience and knowledge.


Wil. said...

You lucky bastards! Congratulations to Wadd, and congratulations to Team USA. I suspect this will do lots to raise the level of orienteering on both sides of the Canada/USA border....

Anonymous said...

Hey Wil, you can defect. And if you donate me some of that Canuck gear, I might even be able to get you on the team...