PARK CITY, UT (Dec. 9) - After 10 years as head coach of the U.S. Adaptive Cross Country Team, Jon Kreamelmeyer is assuming a new position as development coach with the goal of developing athletes to be future members of the Team.
Kreamelmeyer played a pivotal role in building a strong and consistent program with athletes winning Paralympic and World Championship medals over the past decade. He is excited to bring that same passion to helping new athletes move up the pipeline.
"It's something that just came about and for as long as I can remember, there's only been one cross country person," Kreamelmeyer said. "The focus of this is to do outreach that establishes and enhances adaptive cross country programs throughout the nation, and the ultimate goal is to create a development team for the U.S."
Kreamelmeyer's position will allow him to travel the country to enhance or completely build up development programs for disabled cross country, which will feed advanced athletes to national competition.
"It's been a struggle because we've never had the opportunity for someone to actually go out and do outreach to adaptive programs throughout the country. There's never been time to do that," Kreamelmeyer explained. "For the betterment of the program, I thought we probably ought to jump on it. Otherwise it would go away."
In the meantime, as Kreamelmeyer prepares for his new duties, the program is expected to name a new coach shortly.
"This is a great opportunity for our athletes to have someone with Jon's experience working in development," said USSA Adaptive Program Director Sandy Metzger. "He is great in working with athletes and will continue to have an enormous impact on our program."
"It's been the best experience and the best job I've ever had in coaching. The program has come a long way, and there's no doubt it has a ways to go, Kreamelmeyer said. "I would hope for a new coach who has experience, compassion, new ideas, energy, a big smile and someone who's ready to take on a program that has been very good."
One of the highlights of Kreamelmeyer's career was seeing Steve Cook (Salt Lake City) win two gold and a bronze at the 2006 Paralympics, a year after he won the overall World Cup title. According to Kreamelmeyer, whoever takes on the head coach position will have a very promising team to lead of new athletes into the 2010 Paralympics.
"Out of six categories, we only have athletes in one, which we were in second in the world last year," Kreamelmeyer said. "So, we have a good base, we just need athletes who will step in when the present team retires.
"It's going to be a building situation and the new coach and I are going to work hand-in-hand a lot."
The cross country season begins Jan. 3 with the ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships in Anchorage.