A culture shift for outdoor track

Marblehead track coach Nolan Raimo says the program’s culture is all about positivity. Photo by Cat Piper

When head coach Nolan Raimo first took charge of the Magicians four years ago, he didn’t know what to expect.

This was Raimo’s first coaching job. That said, looking back at the last four years, he realizes they’ve built something strong.

“When I first started, we were kind of all over the place,” Raimo said. “We were a pretty segmented team.”

Luckily for Raimo, he’s had a bunch of leaders who helped him change the culture. To start, there was Cam Heafitz who’s now competing at Amherst College, Chris Barone, a junior at Holy Cross who just broke a school record, and Ben Kahn, a current runner at Michigan.

Raimo described these three as the “bricklayers for the team’s foundation.”

“Over time, and through the strong personas who have come through the program, they laid down the foundation of the team.”

The culture at Marblehead is “built on positivity” according to Raimo.

“It’s an emphasis on input rather than output. What you put into it is far more important than what you get out of it,” Raimo said. “Regardless if they’re state champions or not, if they’re improving and putting in the work, those are the people we want to value and promote.”

Raimo admits he’s not perfect and doesn’t know the answers to everything, but often relies on his leaders. He believes students are a “product of their environment.”

“Learning from one of your teammates, in terms of how to be a good person and good track athlete, is the way to do it,” Raimo said. “As a coach, I can help you and guide you, but when you’re around someone special on and off the track, you’re going to get better, too.”

Marblehead has 140 kids signed up for the spring season, and expects a few more additions after baseball and tennis tryouts.

“Out of 140-plus kids, you’re bound to have some fantastic leaders in there,” Raimo said. “The juniors and seniors in the spring are incredibly important. The kids will step up and shepherd groups of kids to give out pointers on how they improved and what they worked on.”

Since this is Raimo’s fourth year helming the Magicians, this senior class has been with him since he started. And just like the former students who began building the foundation, these seniors played a significant role, too.

“Claire Davis, Devin Whalen, and Cate Trautman, from day one, have been culture-setters,” Raimo said. “They started a weight room trend where, now, we have 10-20 kids in the middle of summer coming in to lift. For a track team, that’s unheard of.”

“What Marblehead track has become, from what it was four years ago, they have a presence now. This group, especially these seniors, deserve a ton of credit for bringing track to the main stage,” Raimo said.

Simply put, Marblehead track is the place to be. Raimo and his coaching staff, along with the students, are creating a positive cultural environment.