Jarod Meysenburg was only a sophomore in college when he realized his calling: he was going to become a coach.
A football player for Midland, Meysenburg was sidelined by shoulder injuries. In Meysenberg’s eyes, he was not a pro-level athlete, and thus he sensed that pursuing football was “not worth it.”
So, Meysenburg turned in his jersey, hung up his helmet, and left the team.
But he was not finished with athletics.
“I love sports,” Meysenburg said. “I found out I wasn’t very good at them at the college level, so I figured that the next best thing was to go be a coach.”
While still in college, Meysenburg student taught and coached track and football at Fremont Bergan High School. After graduating from Midland College in 1998, Meysenburg coached track, football, and basketball at Hastings St. Cecilia High School--Meysenburg’s alma mater--for two years, returned to Fremont Bergan for another two years, and finally landed a job at Omaha North High School in 2002. At first, Meysenburg coached only basketball and football, but he soon found himself back on the track--first as an assistant long and triple jump coach, and later as the head girls’ coach, a position he still holds today.
North’s track and field team holds a historic reputation for stellar performances across all events. According to Meysenburg, this success is built in the summer.
When the sun sets on Omaha Burke stadium each year, the track season is not quite over for the Vikings. North holds a strong commitment to participation in Omaha’s summer track clubs, such as Peak Performance, D&A, and Striders.
“I mean, we have some great programs,” Meysenburg said. “That, I think, is truly where the base of our success comes from.”
Additionally, summer track gives Meysenburg’s athletes an opportunity to compete in more ideal weather conditions than are provided during the high school season.
“In Nebraska, the spring is tough, because we’re battling weather all the way through mid-April,” Meysenburg said. “Those kids that go off and continue that track through the summertime are absolutely vital to our success, without question.”
Fortunately, encouraging summer competition is not difficult for Meysenburg; many of his athletes have participated in track clubs throughout their childhood.
“They’ve been running since they were 6, 7, 8 years old and younger,” Meysenburg said. “They come to me and are like, ‘I’ve run track for 10 years,’ and I’m like ‘Okay, that’s easy!”
Though state championships and personal bests are important, Meysenburg concentrates first and foremost on sending all of his girls to college.
“As head coach, I’m not here for myself,” Meysenburg said. “I don’t need medals, I don’t need trophies...I need each girl on my track team to go to college. I don’t care how or why. That’s my goal, nothing else.”
In fact, Meysenburg helped to launch a program at North that prepares students for collegiate athletics. Through this program, Meysenburg identifies female athletes who he believes have “the opportunity to possibly go on to the next level.” Then, the athletes are put in a weight training class and are coached in a variety of areas, such as nutrition, gait, and shoe selection.
Meysenburg realized that the creation of this program was crucial when he received feedback from former athletes competing at the collegiate level.
“They got there and were blown away by how much weight training was required of them and how much they didn’t know what to expect,” Meysenburg said.
In addition to athletic preparation, the program includes a study table, which gives students an opportunity to finish assignments, speak with teachers, and take any tests they may have missed due to competitions.
“We want them to understand that they are student athletes first,” Meysenburg said.
On and off of the track, Meysenburg always reminds his athletes to “finish.”
“I know that sounds simple,” Meysenburg said. “But I don’t care if you run a sprint. I don’t care if you run distance or long jump. You did all the practice, you did all the reps, you did all the training, now finish.”
According to Meysenburg, this mantra extends to all areas of life.
“I try to tie that into everything I do,” Meysenburg said. “Finish your assignments. Finish whatever project you have.”
And “finishing” is not something Meysenburg only expects out of his athletes.
“Sometimes I’ve got to remind myself in that sixth hour of a track meet, ‘Finish,’” Meysenburg said, laughing. “My back hurts, my feet hurt, but I have to finish.”