CCA coach spends summer training college athletes

Posted Monday, Jun. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Three athletes laid face-up on the Heritage Middle School football field, gasping for air. The Texas sun beat down, hinting that summer is just around the corner. Sweat poured off their bodies.

“Keep breathing,” said Dennis Harris, the Colleyville Covenant head track and field coach.

The boy in purple shorts finally sat up, clearly exhausted from the morning’s workout. Slowly, he unlaced his Nike shoes.

“That’s Jalen Mils,” Harris said quietly. “Last year he started at LSU as a true freshman. He plays corner.”

After Mills and the other athletes staggered to the metal bleachers in search of their water bottles, Harris congratulated each individual on another day’s worth of sprinting, jumping, and contorting their bodies every which way.

“See you guys tomorrow.” Harris said.

Training college athletes, in addition to a laundry list of other responsibilities, is what keeps Harris occupied during the summer months. It’s what keeps Harris busy when he’s not winning state championships during the school year. Last spring at Colleyville Covenant, both Harris’ boys and girls teams captured TAPPS Division III state championships, earning Harris the TAPPS Division III Coach of the Year honor for the second consectutive season.

The two titles this year mean the Cougars have won 13 state championships since Harris took over as head coach in 2003. Quietly, Harris and his coaching staff have built a track and field powerhouse at the small private school.

“It was an incredible year,” Harris said. “I’m so proud of what my kids were able to accomplish this year.”

Though the Covenant boys and girls teams were able to achieve their ultimate goal of a state championship, each team found success in vastly different ways. The girls were a small and inexperienced group of nine, whose greatest strength was versatility.

“They were very talented and they can do it all,” Harris said. “All of them do at least three events except our thrower, who does shot and disc. I know my first few state championship girls team are going to be mad but this was our best girls team ever. There’s no disputing it. They reached 144 points in the state meet. That’s ridiculous.”

The Cougars boys team, on the other hand, relied on a large and gritty senior class. Dominating the sprints, hurdles and relay events propelled the boys toward their fifth state title.

“They were determined,” Harris said. “A great senior class who was starving for a title.”

Last year marked Harris’ 10th as the head track and field coach at Colleyville Covenant. After a decade as the Cougars’ head coach, Harris said he couldn’t be any more pleased with his position. Surrounded by assistant coaches who share a similar passion for track and field, Harris sees even more state championships on the horizon.

“My coaching staff is the kind of staff who loves to research,” Harris said. “We love to find cutting-edge stuff. It’s not a recreational sport for us. Our kids are serious about the sport and so are we.”

Harris added, “Hopefully, we’ll be able to win a few more state championships in the future.”

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