Clovis coach Durham giving track and field a try


March 13, 2018

CLOVIS — Keith Durham knows coaching. And he should. He’s done it at the Division I and II collegiate levels, the high school level, too.

But that’s basketball. Track and field is another matter.

Though Durham has been a basketball coach as high as the Boise State University women’s staff, this spring will be his first foray into coaching track and field. But he’s taking it on, taking the reins of Clovis High’s girls track and field team, giving it a go.

“I guess maybe (I’m) a little nervous, this being the first year I ever was a track coach,” he said during a Tuesday afternoon practice at Leon Williams Stadium. “But we have an awesome staff. ... We have great experience as far as college athletes coaching high school athletes. ... I don’t think you can find as experienced a staff.”

Durham has Wildcats cross country coaches Mark Bussen and Billie Merritt helping him with the distance runners. He has Dennis Kerg and Jenna Sievers, who were on the Eastern New Mexico University track team. And there’s Raquel Clements, who competed for the University of Texas-Arlington.

Candace Jordan, one of Jeff Reed’s key basketball assistants, is Durham’s throwing coach.

That’s a lot of knowledge on which Durham can draw. He himself, though, will be the head coach guiding this team. He’s ready for it.

“I’m a huge Cowboy fan,” Durham said, “so I like Tom Landry’s quote, ‘Coaching is getting people to do what they don’t want to do to get them to accomplish what they want to accomplish.' ”

So far in Clovis’ preseason practices, Durham’s own coaching approach has been working, according to Wildcat senior Shataiah Simpson.

“Great coach, I like him being our coach,” she said. “I just like our tasks, what we do (in practice), it betters us.

“Specifically, he pushes us, but not too hard.”

That deft touch is perhaps why Durham has had such longevity as a basketball coach. He’s been an assistant women’s coach with ENMU, the head women’s coach at Division II Fort Lewis College, the girls head coach at Texico, and most recently a coach for Clovis High’s freshman girls.

And of course, there was that Boise State gig.

“You always dream of just doing basketball every single day,” Durham said, “and that’s what I did every single day. Traveling the country, recruiting, going against Louisiana Tech, the University of Washington. We went out and played James Madison. It was just an awesome experience.”

Facing Louisiana Tech meant facing Cheryl Ford, daughter of NBA Hall of Famer and the league’s second-leading all-time scorer Karl Malone, also a former Louisiana Tech player.

Durham even ran across the now-late Pat Summitt, NCAA women’s basketball’s winningest coach of all-time.

“You’re in a gym and Pat Summitt comes and sits right there,” Durham said, pointing next to him. “And you’re like, ‘Wow, this is what coaching is all about.”

Wherever and whatever Durham is coaching, he deals with the same general challenges, the same general responsibilities.

“You’ve still got to do certain things to be successful, no matter what level you’re at,” Durham, a Clovis High world history, government and economics teacher said of coaching track and field. “And that goes with every sport that you coach.”


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