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Head track and field coach Carl Sheffield continues to value hard work above all else

Head track and field coach Carl Sheffield continues to value hard work above all else

Coach Carl Sheffield. Courtesy | Rick Yeatts

Head track and field coach Carl Sheffield continues to value hard work above all else
February 28
16:52 2017

Hard work is something Carl Sheffield is all too familiar with.

Growing up, his father was a service technician and worked at a General Motors in Garland. Sheffield saw his dad put in tireless hours, often tagging along with him to work.

Now the head coach of the North Texas track and field team, Sheffield continues to value hard work above all else.

“I understand who I am and what I’m about,” Sheffield said. “Even when I recruit, I tell kids the difference in our generations is I came from where people worked.”

Originally from Dallas, Sheffield was a high hurdler at Skyline High School. He finished his high school career as a top-five hurdler in the state and was offered a track and field scholarship at the University of Texas at Arlington.

After four years with the Mavericks, Sheffield was left with a decision to make. Continue competing in track, or move on to something else.

He wanted a way to stay in the game.

That’s when Sheffield turned to coaching – something that originated in his own backyard. He began training his sister, Cinnamon, who also ran track, and wanted to prepare her for competing at the collegiate level.

“When I was done with college, my sister was ready to graduate high school,” Sheffield said. “I didn’t want her to choose a college or program that wasn’t going to benefit her.”

After helping her sister make the jump to college, Sheffield served as a volunteer assistant at Louisiana State University beginning in 1988. During his tenure, the Tigers won 11 consecutive NCAA indoor and outdoor track championships. Despite the success, Sheffield wanted a change of scenery, and made the trek to Denton. In his first stint with the Mean Green, Sheffield was a coaching assistant from 1996-2007, and his athletes won over 70 all-conference awards.

But after almost 20 years of coaching, Sheffield did not have the same passion he once had. Something was awry.

He left North Texas in 2007 and took an opportunity at the Michael Johnson Training Center, where he trained middle school students the basics of track and field.

“It was a blessing from a time perspective,” Sheffield said. “I needed something new and fresh to get me back and going.”

However, his time at the training center did not last.

After a few years guiding younger athletes, Sheffield got a call from North Texas in 2012 and returned to Denton – this time as the head coach. It was a chance he couldn’t pass up.

And for the past five years, Sheffield has been at the helm of the Mean Green track and field program. As head coach, he has led North Texas to two conference championships. In 2012 and 2013, Sheffield was named the Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Coach of the Year.

“He wants our [athletes] to be winners,” assistant coach Stefanie Slekis said. “He wants us to be champions.”

Under Sheffield’s guidance, 17 school records have been broken. In 2015, eight athletes qualified for the NCAA West preliminaries, with Chastity Stewart advancing to the NCAA nationals in two separate events.

One of the most successful athletes Sheffield has coached at North Texas, Stewart helped the women’s team take home first place in the 100 and 400-meter hurdles at the 2015 Conference USA Indoor Championships. Later that season, she finished 22nd in the country in those same events.

But things weren’t always easy for Stewart.

In her freshman season, Stewart thought about quitting the team when times got tough. After some deliberation, it was ultimately Sheffield who convinced her to stay.

“It was easily the best decision I’ve made,” Stewart said. “[Sheffield] pushed me to be a better athlete every day. Sometimes I failed. Sometimes I gave up on myself. Despite that, he never gave up on me.”

To this day, Sheffield’s mission remains to get the most out of his athletes and his coaching staff. Because at the end of the day, Sheffield has one simple goal in mind.

“We’re going to be the best we can be,” Sheffield said. “If I’m going to spend my time and energy, then I’m going to put in the time and effort to be good.”

Featured Image: Coach Carl Sheffield. Courtesy | Rick Yeatts

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Desmond Smith

Desmond Smith

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