Former track star, Ms. Yanell Holiday serves as the new head coach for the girl’s track team


Courtesy of CHE XC & Track Twitter

Holiday is beyond excited to share her experience with the girl’s track team.

Elissa Cohen, Eastside Sports Editor

Behind a new coaching staff comprised of coaches who have a rich history in track, the girls’ track team looks to revamp its program. The new head coach, Yanell Holiday intends to use her experience and knowledge of track to enhance East’s program. She will work with Christine Mason, Nicholas Wright and retired-East Athletic Director, Robert Hulme. Hulme grew up with track in his blood and he plans to mentor the athletes at East. Holiday and Hulme will use their wisdom and past experiences as the building blocks of East’s new girls’ track and field program.

For Holiday, track and field has impacted her life since high school when the athletic director at her school asked her to join the team due to her athleticism. During her high school years, she earned all-catholic, all-county and all-state awards for hurdles. In addition, she had the opportunity to perform at the national level at age 16, and she received eighth place. After high school, she continued her athletic career as she ran at Hampton University. Holiday said she was Hampton’s “utility runner.”

The opportunity to coach the track team at East arose, and Holiday was finally able to get her first coaching gig.

“In my mind, I always wanted to coach because track for me gave me so much. I was a quiet, shy, introverted kid. Track made me confident, it gave me a voice, it did so many great things. I learned and became open to learning. It was a great experience for me and I just wanted to share that,” said Holiday.

Holiday reached out to Hulme as she knew he had much experience in the jumping aspect of track, something she did not know much about. Hulme has been jumping since age eight, and he still sometimes jumps in his retirement.

Hulme values the idea of setting goals and achieving them.

Hulme said, “I was always about realizing your innate potential. It is not about winning or losing, I look at a competition as a resource to help you to find out more about yourself and enhance your own performance.”

In addition to Hulme’s insight, the girls will receive lessons from Holiday about tactics that she learned as a hard-working athlete. She wants a team which shows commitment and honor; student athletes who prioritize the sport just as she did.

During the preseason, Holiday taught the fundamentals of track and the essence of running. She wants her athletes to think about how they should be running a race. So, they will work on every phase of the run and perfect it.

I wake up, I think about track. I go to bed, I think about track. It is a dream, it is so great to do this finally.

— Holiday

In this new season, Holiday plans to add a different aspect to the races. She hopes to sit down with the girls and scout teams prior to meets; the runners need to know their competition. In addition, she will implement scrimmage-like scenarios in which East runners will run against each other in an East practice-meet. Holiday said that this will help them see where they stand and adjust to enhance their tactics.

“There is a strategy to everything and how to run things… everything that you do, every drill that you do, it has integrity. I expect you to do it well, I expect you to do it hard. I expect you to do it to the best of your abilities. And then we will build upon it to get better and stronger,” said Holiday.

Besides breaking down the basics, Holiday added that track is a holistic sport, and the entire team has significance.

“There is an expectation of integrity in how you practice, everything that the coaches ask you has a purpose… Togetherness is the essence of the sport. We score as a team, we are gonna lose together, we are gonna win together, but it is together,” said Holiday.

Hulme shares this philosophy with Holiday as he wants to focus on the team as a whole. He wants each athlete to set and reach reasonable goals; he hopes to see an improvement from athletes as they progress from freshman to senior year. More importantly, he wants the team to reach goals together and build camaraderie and commitment.

“The team is a higher priority than yourself or your personal needs. We are hardwired to take the path of less resistance, to make it easier for ourselves. So by answering to a higher source, you’re more inclined to become a better person and become a better athlete,” said Hulme.

To increase team commitment and strength, Holiday has brought in outside sources to build up the program. She said that a nutritionist came to talk to the girls about proper eating and health. Also, Holiday uses a team app to regulate scheduling and attendance.

Holiday said, “I’m trying to get the girls to understand that in order for us to be good, which I believe we are, you have to be present… I need commitment from all 93 girls.”

After she gets commitment from the girls, Holiday will look to win not only individual meets, but she hopes to win the conference. She said it will be difficult, but she knows she has the talent with Star Beasley (‘18), Danielle Allen (‘18), Alana Cohen (‘18), Sarah Pierce (‘19), Nylah Perry (‘20), and many others on her team.

Overall, Holiday’s dreams are coming true as she finally has the opportunity to use her past experience to impact others’ lives. For Holiday, the 2017 spring track season will be emotional and hopefully, extremely successful.

“I wake up, I think about track. I go to bed, I think about track. It is a dream, it is so great to do this finally. It brought me so much, and I am just excited to share that. To share my stories, to give them that experience, it has been a blessing for me, it has been a blast so far,” said Holiday.