I-64 Sports reporter Jamaar Hawkins caught with Maury High School track & field coach Iman Islam after the Commodores won this year’s Class 5 state indoor track championship.
Islam discusses the state championship, potentially missing out on an outdoor championship due to the coronavirus and his next move after resigning from his position earlier this week.
Check out this exclusive Q & A below!
Jamaar: So first we gotta go back to states. You told me your girls were going to do it but exactly how did you manage to pull it off?
Coach Islam: The depth we had going into states this year was good like we had people in Damn near ever event that could score so I knew we had a great chance of scoring a lot of points
Jamaar: Who were the standouts this time around?
Coach Islam: The usuals, Junyce Hasberry and Maeve Stiles, but also coming through for us was Mekhia McCount and Nyah Salley scoring in 2 events each. Heaven Hall also scored in 2 events and Destini Evans ran on the winning 4 x 200.
Jamaar: What did this title cement for you as a coach?
Coach Islam: Lol, nothing. Everybody that know track know I can coach my a** off and not just because of my knowledge, but it’s nobody in this area who puts more time into this sport. I coach high school, middle school kids and AAU. All the way down to 4 year olds. •But it does put me in a short list of area coaches who has won around here, and the first Norfolk coach to ever win a state title in track so I guess it makes me history.
Jamaar: That last part is really where I was getting at. We know Norfolk is not historically known for winning state titles in track, but you’ve been on the cusp the last few years. What are some of the obstacles you have had to overcome during that time?
Coach Islam: Not having a track to practice on. Only having 7 hurdles. No jump pit. No high jump mats.
Jamaar: Compare that a similar situation in another sport.
Coach Islam: Football practicing in the gym everyday with no equipment, Basketball just practicing plays with the ball and not being able to shot until the meet or baseball practicing on a football field.
Jamaar: How did you supplement not having a track during your practices?
Coach Islam: •Football field or a few schools letting us borrow some time on there’s, but that was far and few. We only touch a track outside of track meets like 7 times the whole indoor season.
Jamaar: What went into your decision to resign? Have you officially resigned or are waiting to see what happens with outdoor?
Coach Islam: I haven’t officially resigned because (Maury athletic director) Boyd don’t know yet. I just had to tell the kids because I was thinking they was going to cancel the season so that would be the last time I had all them in the same room. It was a definite move before this season even started. No retirement package in coaching, and I’m not a permanent teacher at the school so I’ve been taking a big financial sacrifice over these years. I really put time into this. I got no kids, no wife no nothing so I really wanna see what the other side is like.
Jamaar: How much do people not in the coaching profession misconstrue about what you guys go through?
Coach Islam: The actual time you have to put in to have a successful program and maintain it. Just because your program is not winning or people not doing good means your a bad coach. Have folks ever thought you might not have the kids who buy into what you want to do or put the time in to be good? Because my program changed when I got kids that brought in and made the necessary sacrifices.
Jamaar: Do you think coach kind of mirrors the sports of track & field itself? With the time commitment, hard work required but lack of financial payoff?
Coach Islam: Yeah, man it’s bad. Track takes a different type of commitment and track outside of college doesn’t allow athletes to be straight (financially) for life unless you’re Usain (Bolt).
Jamaar: Why not personal training then?
Coach Islam: That’s a up and down business. No real longevity. Now if I had a kid make it big, maybe. But there’s no real money.
Jamaar: Gotcha. Do you think you will change your mind (about resigning)? It’s hard walking away on top.
Coach Islam: No way! My mind is made up. I’m walking away like Peyton Manning. In the sunset. Something would have to drastically happen with my mom or something, because I’m moving to DC.
Jamaar: Makes sense. When I spoke to Coach Gordon recently he talked about the coaching fraternity at Maury and how much you guys motivate each other. Can you expand on that a little more for me?
Coach Islam: Listen, it’s super exciting to be around other guys that are successful because it pushes you to want to be great like them. We all pretty much have a good relationship with each other, but I’m the old head around them. I’ve been at Maury since 2003 from football to track and the best part we were all Norfolk kids at one point. I’m not sure where coach Gordon is from, but me and Dyrii are Maury kids and Plummer is from Booker t so we get the kids and each other.