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Coaching Feature: John Curtis Christian School's Preston Curtis

Role at School:

High School Principal, Head Coach Track & Field/XC

What is your personal athletic background?

I competed in multiple sports at John Curtis Christian (Football, Track & Field, Olympic Lifting, Baseball, Basketball)1993-1998 and
I played football at Tulane University from 1998-2002.

What brought you to coaching cross country and/or track?

Coaching is in my blood and I knew I had a calling to coach and educate young people at an early age.  From the moment I was hired to coach Football and Track & Field, I knew we also had a need to develop a cross country program in order to be successful. I have coached teams in all three sports from 5th-12th grades.

How many years have you coached?

I have coached for 20 years.

What teams/age groups do you coach?

I have coached football,Track & Field and XC from grades 5th-12th most of my career.  I currently coach Varsity Track & Field and XC.

What is your xc coaching philosophy?

First and foremost the development of the whole person is the priority. We facilitate spiritual and academic growth in conjunction with athletic development. We constantly work to instill traits our students need to succeed in Track/XC and in life after their sports careers are over. Prepare, then prepare some more and always COMPETE regardless of the circumstances. In regards to training, We have always believed in multi-paced training throughout the year. Like most we do a long run and recovery runs but also use 10k,5k,3k intervals and consistently sprinkle in training to develop the anaerobic system.

Does it carry over into any other sports you might coach?

I believe regardless the endeavor if you make a commitment to consistently put the work in, prepare and compete you can be content regardless of the outcome.

What is your general season goal?

Our goal for each individual to improve daily and as a result collectively the team improves. We strive for excellence and to compete at the highest level.
Do you have a key workout you use throughout the season?
There’s so many depending on what we are trying to develop. I like 10k pace intervals due to the fact that I can achieve high volume but still control the quality. Depending on the training age of the athlete each interval may range from 400-2000 meters.

How do you handle injury?

We work on being proactive to prevent injury through strength training, extensive warmups, flexibility and use of restorative modalities. When injury occurs we use all the tools we have at our disposal. Ice, foam rolling, massage, dry needling and Physical therapy.


We work to reduce competition anxiety by focusing on the preparation. If we prepare and compete we can be content with whatever the outcome. We also implement positive self talk, visualization and the use of sport psychologists.


We try to keep practices lively, constantly encouraging and challenging our athletes. We give all athletes, regardless of their ability the opportunity to compete.

How do you seen athletics integrated with academics?

The values acquired in athletics transfer to academics and all aspects of life. Being punctual, consistently preparing to be your best, working with others, integrity, mental toughness/discipline, embracing new challenges and finding ways to overcome are few qualities that transfer.

What is the most important skill or value you try to impart to your team?

Prepare, then prepare a little more and always COMPETE! Strive for daily growth and reaching your full potential.

I know that you serve as a multisport  AND multilevel coach, and as the school’s athletic director.  From a person that juggles both middle school and varsity athletics at a single-sex school, I have to ask how you get it all done.

Considering I am part of a family business I wear many hats. Currently, I serve as the high school principal of approximately 380 young men and women, Head Track & Field/XC and have 5 children.

I have learned to find balance and prioritize over the years.  It also helps that I have an amazingly supportive wife and children. I also have had excellent assistant coaches and coworkers over the years in which our success can be attributed.

John Curtis has traditionally homed national caliber athletes, and managed to keep them enrolled and competing at a high level.  With athletes that are nationally ranked, and may have private coaches, club sport coaches, strength coaches, etc — how do you bridge the gap and communicate with different agendas?

We strive to create a family environment at John Curtis Christian and we treat each student-athlete as our own. Through communication and love of our students we build trust over time. We work to provide the best opportunities for each individual to achieve at their highest level.

Middle school track coaching approach: Throw everyone in everything and let them find their way VS Curated entries guiding the kids into events you feel they are best suited for

We see middle school as an opportunity to introduce many to a sport in which they never realized they could have success in.
Most do not realize the plethora of events for all different types of abilities.
Those who are exceptional or have older training ages we provide more individualized instruction to help them reach their full potential.

Do you use indoor track as a complete season, or more of a warm up for outdoor track?

Indoor is important to our program, but ultimately we are training with emphasis for it to all come together in May.

When you’re dealing with an athlete who is talented and sturdy enough to compete in 4 events, how do you manage entries throughout the season? 

We only compete in 4 events if it is necessary. Very few athletes are capable competing in 4 events if the competition level is high. If we choose to do this we have to adjust our training calendar to include more recovery days,considering competition is the most intense training session.

Do you alternate relays, or allow others to run in the qualifying heats?

We like to give opportunities to multiple athletes throughout the year and with that data determine the best combinations for the postseason. If we are able to we will run alternates in order to save the legs of others until they are needed.

Do you coach your own pole vaulters?

We have introduced many to pole vault over the years. We also have had great coaches on staff such as  Doug Fraley, Chris Vest and Todd Duvio. Most vaulters go to weekly clinics to receive outside help as the event is highly specific and requires specialized equipment.

Do you bench kids when the academics slip?  

We are proactive in preventing these issues with report card checks and weekly communication with teachers. There are consequences for our athletes when the issues are not resolved.

Do you bench kids for misbehavior?

We love our athletes and sometimes it requires tough love and accountability.

How do you determine when to run a young athlete up to varsity?

Ability is an important factor but also the athlete/parent must have a varsity level commitment to the program.

Is it a timeline process or an individual decision for each athlete?

We look at it on an individual basis.  Is the athlete ready for that level of commitment?  Are they physically/mentally ready for a higher level of competition? Is it  best for that individuals long term development?

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