Seymour graduate will coach throwers at Iowa

Last week, Seymour’s Eric Werskey was named assistant track and field coach at the University of Iowa.

Werskey, 30, will lead the throws program after spending the past two seasons at California State University, Northridge.

Last year, Werskey coached two conference champions in the discus and helped guide three athletes to top-three finishes in the shot put.

As an undergrad at Auburn and Indiana, Werskey was a three-time All-American in the shot put.

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At Seymour, Werskey was a 2006 USA Today All-American in the shot put and discus. That year, he was a USATF All-American in the shot put and discus.

In 2005 and 2006, Werskey was a Nike All-American in the discus.

He earned back-to-back state championships in the shot put in 2005 and 2006 and won a state title in the discus in 2005.

Werskey placed 13th in Group B of the shot put at the 2006 World Junior Olympics and was a 2006 USATF World Junior Team member.

The Tribune sports editor Jordan Morey recently interviewed Werskey:

Q: How did all of this come together for you? Were you applying to programs across the country? Did they reach out to you?

A: At the end of the season, typically, there are coaching vacancies within the NCAA all over the U.S. I was not applying for positions, as I felt comfortable at CSUN, and I had a great team coming back for next season. We had a great year on the women’s side, and the men had begun to establish themselves as the top athletes in the conference, and I had a great signing class coming, as well. When I learned that Iowa was vacant, I was asked if I would be interested, and I said I wouldn’t seek it out but said if they called, I would entertain what Iowa had to offer because it would be an opportunity to bring me closer to my family. Ultimately, they did call, then I applied after speaking with head coach Joey Woody. He is enthusiastic and runs an exceptional program.

Q: Why did you take this job? What draws you to Iowa?

A: Like mentioned above, coach Woody was very positive and enthusiastic on the phone with me early on. During the interview process, I could visibly see the transparency and respect the staff had for one another. The atmosphere they created during the interview made me feel at home, and I knew I could thrive among colleagues with this demeanor. On top of that, University of Iowa is a Big Ten institution with amazing academics, up-to-date facilities and a history of success within its program. All of these factors played a major role into my decision. Plus, it’s an opportunity to be closer to family and do what I love.

Q: What are some of the things you learned at your previous coaching stop that you feel will help you at Iowa?

A: CSUN gave me an opportunity that I will never forget. Head coach Avery Anderson gave me an opportunity to step in and take an established group to another level. I was given opportunities to recruit, network and create my own training programs to cater the student-athletes. The biggest part of all was learning how to connect to each student-athlete and have them committed to the common goal while trusting the process when we flourished and when times were tough. Seeing the CSUN group committed and bonded to this philosophy, I will always carry that with me. When that happened, we had championship results that would have either won the Big Ten or placed very highly within the Power 5 conferences.

Q: What are some of your best memories at CSUN? How did you grow as a coach?

A: Growing as a coach is a continuous process. Training and developing philosophy rarely changes, but there is always room for minor adjustments for training and communication. I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by some of the best in this sport, and I really value that. I take what I have learned from them and implement that into my own plan, as I do my own research. There is no “magic bullet” when it comes to developing student-athletes. We as coaches have to make our best educated decision and create a way to have our student-athletes trust us in the process.

Some of my greatest memories include being on trips and sharing stories among my athletes. Seeing them mature each season was very special to me. The results and titles we won were a lot of fun, but celebrating as a team for each person’s successes were very special to me, especially when I could see them walk across the stage with their diploma.

Results-wise, some of the best memories were:

  • Having a male discus thrower win a conference title after three years of serving the U.S. military.
  • Having a female shot putter win the conference title two years after she was told she would no longer throw the shot put.
  • In my first year having a female hammer thrower qualify for the USATF Olympic Trials, then later representing the USA that summer and winning an international medal.
  • Same female hammer thrower breaking the Big West Conference meet record.
  • The women scoring over 50 points in throws to help the team win a team conference title.
  • Having 18 student-athletes earn All-Academic teams.

Q: Have you always wanted to coach in the Big Ten? If so, why?

A: I knew I wanted to coach throws by the time I graduated from Auburn University. I knew it was a tough process to get into collegiate coaching, but I took advantage of opportunities to help my personal growth and networking. Just like anything else, there are steps that go into developing your craft. For me, I had to move Auburn, Alabama and to California twice in order to develop my craft. There, I was able to learn an invaluable amount with the people I was surrounded by.

Ultimately, my goal is to become the best collegiate throws coach possible, and having an opportunity to be in the Big Ten now is a dream come true for me. The Big Ten is arguably the best track and field conference in the NCAA and also arguably the toughest throws conference in America. I have been fortunate enough to inherit a talented group here at Iowa, and I believe they possess the ability to represent the University of Iowa at the highest level. It’s a major platform, and with that comes many challenges. As a former high-level competitor, I am willing and exciting to embrace the challenges that lie ahead.

Q: Who are some people that you’ve learned from in your coaching journey?

A: The list can go on forever. First, it begins with my parents and brother. My parents, James and Christine, have given me unconditional support and love since Day 1. Even when times were tough, they were able to pull through for their family and provide us with opportunities that have helped lead me to this point in my life. My bother, Alan, has been the same. Alan helped me understand at a young age what it was like to compete and be tough. I spent several days in my childhood trying to play sports with he and his friends, and they showed no mercy. Those days catered to me being a well-rounded athlete and person as I made my way through the high school, collegiate and post-collegiate ranks.

Several of my high school football, basketball and track and field coaches developed me into a well-rounded athlete, and I left Seymour High School with only positive memories. Joe Goodman, Jeff Richey, Scott Miller, Chris Rose, Jeremy Lambrecht and many, many more took extra time out of their busy schedules to develop me into an NCAA Division I athlete.

Collegiately, Jerry Clayton gave me an opportunity at Auburn University. AU had been established as the top throws program in the country at the time. There, I learned how to compete at a national stage and embrace the highest levels of competition. I left AU as an SEC All-Academic team and three-time All-American, and I couldn’t have done it without coach Clayton’s guidance.

Professionally, Art Venegas has been an incredible resource. Coach Venegas coached me during my tenure at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, and led me to be ranked as high as 10th in the USA. I spent three years under Art, and every day I learned something new. He created a dynasty at UCLA, developed athletes to be NCAA champions and led them to be world champions and Olympic medalists. His wisdom, guidance and trust have given me the ability to really embrace the world of college coaching.

Q: What are you most excited about with the new job?

A: I am most excited to be back in the Midwest and represent a major institution like the University of Iowa. Their core principles of developing student-athletes align with my principles, as well. We have a very talented group and experienced team. We have a chance to do some very special things within the next couple years, and I am very fortunate to be able to be part of the process.