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Blue Lightning Track Club Coaching Staff

More Than 100% of Blue Lightning Track Club's final roster qualified for the AAU National Junior Olympics in 2017.

BLUE LIGHTNING TRACK CLUB COACHING STAFF

Blue Lightning Track Club Coaching Staff

The Blue Lightning Track Club’s coaches are passionate about developing youth athletes.  Collectively, we bring more than 60 years of combined youth, collegiate, national and international track and field experience to the team. We are comprised of Olympians, National Champions, National Record Holders, NCAA All-Americans, Collegiate Conference Champions, High School State Champions, Regional Champions, MVP Award Recipients, and Sports Hall of Famers.

Professionally, we are business owners, consultants, managers, educators, counselors, human resources professionals, community advocates, and project managers.

Our coaching staff includes full athletic scholarship recipients and graduates from top academic and athletic programs in the United States – Auburn University (South Eastern Conference), Abilene Christian University (Southland Conference), Brown University (Ivy League), Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and South Carolina State College (Middle Eastern Athletic Conference).

Our coaches are consummate students of track and field and latest coaching techniques improving the sport. In addition to exposing youth to the exciting world of track and field and latest training fundamentals for speed, strength, and endurance, we emphasize a positive and motivational team environment.  Mentoring is an essential part of our coaching philosophy. We focus on developing a Champion’s mindset within each athlete and bringing out their best on the track, in the classroom and most importantly, in their communities.    As recent evidence of the effectiveness of our coaching philosophy, more than 90% of Blue Lightning Track Club athletes qualified for the AAU National Junior Olympics in 2017, and 100% were academic honor students.

We invite you to review our coaching staff through the profiles below.

Note: Our coaches are background-screened by USA Track and Field and AAU associations, and SafeSport Certified.

Steve Strother, Head Coach / 200-400m Sprints / Relays

Steve Strother is the co-founder and Head Coach of the Blue Lightning Track Club and a Certified Double-Goal Coach with the Positive Coaching Alliance and brings tremendous experience and skill to youth athletes. He was a 4-time NCAA Track and Field All-American, 11-time All-SEC Sprinter, and SEC Champion. His team won four SEC Championships during his Auburn athletic career. Coach Strother was inducted into the New Rochelle, N.Y. Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, and was recently profiled by Auburn University to represent their School of Arts and Sciences to potential Auburn students around the world.

Strother’s Track & Field Experience
– 2013-Present – Head Coach of Blue Lightning Track Club – Sprints / 400m / Relays.
– 1980 SEC Indoor Championships 4×400, 1st Place (Auburn Univ, 1st leg).
– 1980 SEC Indoor Championships 400m, 3rd Place (Auburn Univ).
– 1979 NCAA National Outdoor Championships, 2nd Place 4×100 (Auburn Univ, 3rd leg).
– 1979 NCAA National Qualifier in 200 Meters.
– 1978 Drake Relays 4×100 Meters Champion 1-st place (Auburn Univ, 2nd leg).
– 1979 Top 6 200 Meters SEC Championships (20.48).
– 1978 NCAA National Indoor Championships, 3rd Place 4x400m (Auburn Univ).
– 1978 NCAA National 400m Qualifier for Indoor Championships (Auburn Univ).
– 1978 Eastern Tennessee Invitational, 1st Place 400m (Auburn Univ).


– 1978 Eastern Tennessee Invitational, 2nd Place 4x400m (Auburn Univ, 3rd leg).
– 1978 Millrose Games 2nd Place 4×400 (Auburn Univ 3rd leg).
– 1978 Vitalis Olympic Invitational 2nd Place 4×400 (Auburn Univ 3rd leg).
– 1980 SEC Team Champions 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980.
– 1976 Eastern States H.S. Championships, 1st place 60-yard dash (New Rochelle H.S., Junior).
– 1976 New York State H.S. State Championships, 1st place 300-yard dash (New Rochelle H.S., Junior).
– 1976 New York State H.S. State Championships, 2nd place 60-yard dash (New Rochelle H.S., Junior).
– 1975 New York State H.S. State Championships, 1st place 880-yard Relay dash (New Rochelle H.S., Soph, Anchor).
– 1975 New York State H.S. State Championships, 2nd place 100-yard dash (New Rochelle H.S., Soph).
– 1975 New York State H.S. State Championships, 2nd place 60-yard dash (New Rochelle H.S., Soph).

Read more

Auburn University in Auburn, AL.
B.A., Psychology
1977-1982

Sayon Cooper, Sprint Coach

– Head Coach, 2016 Liberian Olympic Track and Field Team in Rio.
– Sprint Consultant to Olympic, collegiate, masters, and youth athletes.
– A graduate of Abilene Christian Univ in Abilene, TX.

Youth Coaching Credits

– Sprint coach behind 4-time World Youth Champion Candace Hill.
– Coached Candace Hill to an undefeated season in 2015, an American record of 10.98 for the 100-meters, and a #1 World Ranking and World Youth Best in the 100 and 200-meters.

Athletic Accomplishments

– 1996 & 2000 Summer Olympics – 100 m, 200 m, 4×100 Relay.
– Competed in the World Outdoor Championships 1997, 1999, 2001.
– Competed in the World Indoor Championships 1999, 2001.
– 1997 NCAA Division II Champion in both the 100 and 200 m.
– 1996 & 2000 Summer Olympics – 100 m, 200 m, 4×100 Relay.
– Personal Best: 100 m – 10.15, 200 – 20.50.

G. Fatuga, Middle Distance Coach

– Intentionally Great Track Club (IGTC).
– Middle/Long Distance Track Coach (2015 – Present).
– Nigerian National Track Team (2003).
– Reebok-Boston Team Member (1997 – 2003).
– Powerbar Racing Team Member (1997-2001).
– Reebok (Central Massachusetts Striders) Racing Team Member (1997-99).
– Track & Field Team, Brown University (Div. I School).
– Volunteer Assistant Brown University Track Coach (1996-97).
– Brown University Most Valuable Player Award (1996).
– NCAA Provisional National Qualifier (1996).
– Roosevelt High School – Top 15 Listing National Track and Field News (1992).

Track and Field Performances

– Current Nigerian National Indoor 800M Record Holder (1:49).
– Current Brown University Record Holder (4 x 800M Relay 7:26.79).
– Former (1996) Brown University Indoor 800M Record Holder (1:49.63).
– 2003 Nigeria Mobil National Championships (6th Place – 800M).
– 2003 USA National Championships (2nd Place – Distance Medley Relay).
– 1996 & 1995 Heptagonal Champion.
– 1993 NCAA Div. I Indoor Track & Field National Championship Participant.
– 1992 Track & Field News Top 15 High School National Listing – (800M 1:51.85).

Education

Emory University Goizueta Business School
MBA, Business Administration
2010-2011

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
M.S., Drug Regulatory Affairs & Health Sciences
2000-2007

Brown University
B.S., Neuroscience
1992-1996

Rita Whidbee, Assistant Sprint Coach / Relays

– 1987-91 Full scholarship track and field athlete at South Carolina State College.
– Competed in 200, 400, 4×400 relay and won many MEAC competitions.
– 1985- Junior Olympic Nationals- Silver Medalist 100m, Bronze Medalist 400.
– 1985 AAU Region 3 100 Meters Champion.
– 1984-1985 1st member of D.C. Express Track Club affectionally called “First Lady of D.C. Express”.
– 1982-87 Towers H.S. team captain 4 years. Ran 100, 200, 4×400, 4×100 anchor leg.
– State champions in 4×400. State competitor in 100, 4×400 and 4×100.

South Carolina State College
1987-1991

Ben Gipson, Distance & Racewalk Coach

– 2017 Distance Coach, Blue Lightning Track Club.
– 2017 Trained two AAU State Champions and National Junior Olympians 1500/3000 m.
– 2017 Trained AAU State Champion and National Junior Olympian in the 1500m Racewalk.

Coach Ben Gipson trains our distance runners and race walkers and brings his love
of the sport to the Blue Lightning Track Club. This year, two 3000 meter runners and a 1500 meter racewalker became AAU District State Track Champions under his watch.
Coach Ben says, “When I coach I try and instill two things. Hard work and good life choices pay off.”

Coach Ben is not your typical track warrior with years of experience on the circuit,
he developed his love for sports and work ethic as a basketball star in Alabama.
He was chosen as the District 7 MVP in the championship season in the State of
Alabama. After basketball, he began running for fitness, which included marathons,
5 and 10 k’s. When his son, Noah Gipson, showed an interest in running he began exposing
him to the wonderful world of cross country and track and field.
Noah is the 2017 AAU State District Champion.

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