Originally from Westwood, Mass., Head Coach Jeff Domina has been coaching Andover Boys Cross Country for 19 years and has been the head coach since 2010. Although he did not run cross country as a child, Coach Domina played soccer and was an avid runner.
According to Coach Domina, he enjoys cross country because of its combination of fitness, the opportunity to be in nature, and the social aspect of the team.
“I enjoy just being with the kids and being out for a run. There are so many beautiful trails in Andover, so we can sort of run down the road and be off on trails for miles. I love being outside, I love to run for a long time, I love to be out on trails and all of that,” said Coach Domina.
Coach Domina’s coaching method involves runners setting and achieving goals, as well as having designated workout days and rest days.
Harrison Wilson ’20 said, “I have found that Coach Domina’s teaching and coaching philosophy is oriented on two workouts a week, and the other two are rest days [or] long runs. I’ve found that that structure is very effective in really increasing speed, but still having ample recovery time.”
“Because he has been coaching for as long as he has, he has a lot of experience with racing tactics and overall general guidelines about what to eat before a race and how much water you should be drinking and a lot of tips that help new athletes and returners keep learning as they are on the team,” continued Wilson.
Coach Domina also encourages his athletes to develop training plans based on their specific skill levels and their goals for the season.
“The most important thing I have learned from Coach [Domina] is probably about training at your skill level. He is really good about helping everyone work off what they already have, and I think that’s really important. It’s not ‘don’t push yourself’ but [rather] ‘make sure that you’re training your skill level,’ ” said Jack O’Neil ’19.
In addition to the wisdom he has passed down to his players, Coach Domina has also impacted the team through his kindness, caring spirit, and ability to make practices fun, according to Captain Giacomo Marino ’18.
Marino said, “He is a really nice and caring guy. He connects with everyone on the team from the training group through varsity. I think the main thing is that he really cares about everyone. I think he is really good at helping us set goals and looking towards the end of the season and the next years.”
Additionally, Coach Domina has taught the team to persevere regardless of circumstance or weather conditions, according to O’Neil.
“When it’s raining, he’ll ask the team, ‘What’s wrong with running in the rain?’, and the whole team is supposed to respond, ‘Nothing!’. We don’t really take days off running when it’s raining, and that’s something that is sort of a joke with the team because he really emphasizes that it’s important to train when you don’t really feel like training,” said O’Neil.
According to Coach Domina, his proudest moments as a coach are when he sees his runners push themselves and face their challenges head-on.
Coach Domina said, “My fondest memory is probably not a specific single memory, but a category of memories where I see runners reach some sort of milestone or mark some kind of progress with a great race — whether it be a personal record or finishing a race for the first time if it is a new kid or some sort of competitive success with a big win or contributing to a championship. Just those moments where you can really see the culmination of the runner’s efforts and work over the course of the season.”
According to Coach Domina, his goal this season is for each member of the team to discover a lifelong love of running. Additionally, he hopes that all the runners on the team find individual and group success.
Coach Domina said, “Our primary goal as a team is always happy, healthy running for every kid, from the newest kid in the training group up through the top of the varsity [team]. Another goal is to compete as well as we can and to win at Interschols.”