From the first days of the Valley Royals, the philosophy of the Club has been to create a core of qualified, enthusiastic and skilled coaches whom the Club would support strongly in their coaching. Over the years, coaching has always been one of the strengths of the Valley Royals, with skilled coaches covering the spectrum of events in track & field.
From the club’s beginning, Gerry Swan has served as the Royals head coach. Swan’s philosophy mirrored those of founding President and current director Paul Anderson’s in that he knew it was vital to assemble a group of certified assistant coaches that could, in a responsible manner, tap the potential of the athletes under their charge. The strength of the coaching staff is self evident as all of the Royal coaches have developed athletes that have been represented on BC and Canadian teams.
Current Valley Royals Coaches are listed below:
Gerry Swan is a Level 4 Certified Coach and has been involved with track and field for a very long time. During his career as a coach, Swan has developed more than 25-athletes that have represented Canada internationally and has served himself as a coach on a number of international teams. At present Swan serves as the coordinator of coaching for the Royals and assists Sue Northey during her group’s training sessions. In addition, he serves on the BC Athletics Senior Track and Field Planning Committee, conducts Level 2 and 3 middle distance clinics and writes various articles for track and field publications.
Sue Northey is a Level 3 certified coach in the middle distance runs and serves as the middle distance coach for the Royals Abbotsford division of runners. A graduate of McMaster University, Sue captured nine conference medals and four Canadian University Championship medals while attending that school. In 2001 Sue was inducted into McMaster’s Hall of Fame. Sue has served as a BC Head Coach for the Canadian Legion Championships and the Canadian Cross Country Championships. She has also acted as a Canadian Coach at the World Cross Country Championships. Sue has developed numerous young athletes that have become medalists at the BC and Canadian Championship level.
Ziggy has had a long and successful tenure as both the Valley Royal and Fraser Valley Regional Center coach for power/speed. Ziggy, who is a graduate of the Polish Institute of Coaching, has a vast background in the jumps, hurdles and sprint events. He has developed a number of fine athletes that include Michael Mason who with a best height of 2.31-meters holds numerous BC records and was a finalist in the high jump at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Ziggy holds a level 3 Canadian Certification in Sprints, Hurdles and Jumps as well as a level 2 American Certification. Ziggy has had 11 male High Jumpers achieve over 2.13m, and 5 female jumpers achieve over 1.83m. His athletes have attended Youth, Junior, Senior, FISU, NACIA, NCAA and Olympic Games competitions.
Ziggy will be concentrating on developing the outstanding group of young athletes in the speed/power discipline.
Larry Neilson—Power/Speed Assistant Coach
After serving for many years as the Valley Royal Junior Development Coordinator, Larry Neilson has taken on a different role with the Royals for the coming track and field season and will now work in close association with power/speed coach Ziggy Szelagowicz.
Neilson, a level 3 certified coach, brings a wealth of experience to the power/speed discipline. He particularly enjoys working with the newer athletes that aspire to increase their expertise in events such as high jump, long jump and hurdle events. Larry’s involvement with the power speed discipline will allow coach Szelagowicz to devote some of his time assisting athletes in the younger age divisions.
In addition to his coaching duties, Larry enjoys being involved in the promotion of track and field in general and in 2012 he was praised for his effort as the Zone 3 coordinator of the BC Summer Games.
Graham Danziger—Pole Vault
Graham Danziger, like many pole vault coaches, is a student of the event. Graham began competing in track and field at a young age and developed into a versatile athlete who did well in the sprints and jumps. During his secondary school career as a Mouat Hawk, Graham narrowed his competitions to the pole vault and became a BC High School Champion in that event. Upon high school graduation, Graham accepted an athletic scholarship from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. While at Lindenwood Graham became that school’s fourth best ever in the pole vault with a height of 4.95 meters. Graham’s best height during his competitive years as a Valley Royal was 5.05 meters. Graham loves coaching the vault and has shown the patience and expertise as a coach that has aided a number of young British Columbia vaulters.
Harold Willers —Throws Coach
Harold Willers has for many years served as a throwing coach for the Valley Royals. A four time Canadian Champion (1981 to 1984) in the hammer, Willers brings a wealth of experience and coaching expertise to the event area. In the past he has coached a number of athletes who have represented Canada internationally. One of these athletes was Wes Boudreau, a former Canadian Junior Champion in the hammer who won several medals at the NCAA Championships and represented Canada at the World Junior and Pan American Junior Championships. In addition to his coaching duties with the Royals, Harold assists with coaching throws for a number of schools and clubs in the Fraser Valley.
James Meehan—Junior Development Coach
After serving a number of years under the guidance of the JD coordinator, Larry Neilson, James has now assumed responsibility for this age division. Fully certified at Level 2, James is an enthusiastic coach who inspires young athletes to be their best. James’ program includes skill development, physical fitness, and recreational games. Under James guidance the club’s JD system is in good hands.
Brit Townsend—Middle Distance Coach Burnaby
Brit is a Level 4 coach and in addition to her duties as a Royals coach is the Head Coach of SFU’s Track and Field Program. A former international who was a finalist at both the World Championships and Olympic Games, Brit has been successful in developing a strong distance running program at SFU. She has helped improve a number of middle distance runners that include Heather deGeest, the BC Juvenile record holder at 800 metres and a finalist in 1500-metres at the World Junior Championships. At present Brit is coaching Jessica Smith who was a semi finalist in the 800-meters at the 2012 London Olympics. Other outstanding athletes that Brit mentors include heptathlon athlete Ruky Abdulai and middle distance runner Helen Crofts.
Tom Dickson — Power/Speed Coach Burnaby
Tom Dickson is a Level 3 Certified Coach who coaches many top ranked sprinters and hurdlers. Tom conducts Level 1 clinics in sprints/hurdles and serves as a coach for numerous provincial track and field teams. In addition, Tom is an outstanding athlete and has won medals in international master competitions. Tom conducts most of his training sessions at either Burnaby Central High School or Simon Fraser University.