Athlete of the Week: Coyle gave Panthers versatility on the track

Now a senior, Brendan Coyle has a lot of good memories from his high school track career — not necessarily where he won, but where he surprised himself and helped his team. Submitted photo

(EDITOR’S NOTE: With the high school spring sports season canceled, we’re going to continue our Athlete of the Week feature with a little different format. We’re going to recognize a downstate senior athlete by sport for their career accomplishments. This week, Polytech’s Brendan Coyle won our readers’ poll for boys’ track & field.)

CAMDEN — The first time Brendan Coyle ran in a real track meet, he didn’t plan on winning.

The Polytech High sophomore was running in the 300-meter hurdles simply because the Panthers didn’t have anyone else for the event in that particular dual meet.

“I knew I could get three points and help the team out,” Coyle remembered.

So Coyle was as surprised as anyone when he ended up winning the race.

“Afterwards I was looking around, and I’m like, ‘Wait, I won?’” said Coyle. “It was my first time on a track, my first time doing hurdles and I won.”

Now a senior, Coyle has a lot of good memories like that from his high school track career — not necessarily where he won, but where he surprised himself and helped his team.

The Camden resident may never have been a state championship contender, but Polytech coach Czar Bloom said he’s the kind of kid he loves to have on his squad. There weren’t too many events that Coyle wouldn’t attempt.

“If you were talking baseball, he’d be kind of your utility man,” said Bloom. “I tell you, he’s just one of those kids who thrives off competition, enjoys having a team around him, enjoys motivating the team and being part of the team. Whatever I need him to do, he’s willing to step in and do it.

“He’s pretty much got the whole range. He could probably step in anywhere. I don’t think he’s dabbled in throws yet but just about everything else he can do.”

During his career, Coyle ran both the 110 and 300 hurdles, could fill in on any relay, competed in the long jump and added the high jump to his resume last spring.

Coyle ran cross country at Caesar Rodney’s Postlethwait Middle School as an eighth-grader but says he’s probably a sprinter at heart.
“I liked the challenge of being put in different events and seeing what I could do,” said Coyle.

More than anything, though, Coyle said the thing he liked most about competing at Polytech was that the team’s goals were the priority.

Despite track & field being such an individual sport, Bloom said he’s always believed in getting as many students as possible involved. That’s how a relative newcomer to the sport like Coyle can thrive.

“I always encourage the kids to try as many things as you possibly can,” said Bloom. “A lot of them, they may never have tried an event in their life and find out, ‘Wow, I’m pretty good at this.’

“I’m looking for the kids who are looking for an identity — to be a part of something — not necessarily the elite athletes who have already established themselves.”

“We were all basically like family, whether you were a distance runner or a shot put thrower,” said Coyle. “We were all very close-knit, especially the group of seniors. We all enjoyed what we did. We knew how to push each other.”

Bloom knew this season was important to Coyle. It was his last chance to compete before heading to college at Delaware State University in the fall.

Coyle was working particularly hard on the high jump, where he qualified for the Henlopen Conference championships last season.
“When I first got the message from Coach Bloom that the season got cut entirely, I was just speechless,” said Coyle, who ran cross country last fall.

“He was a veteran this year,” said Bloom. “He was looking forward to being a senior leader. He had some big goals set.

“The first couple weeks of the preseason, he was really ready to roll.”

Even though Coyle doesn’t plan on competing in track & field any more, he does want to keep running.

Ultimately, Coyle wants to teach special-needs kids. He first started working with them when he was in fifth grade.

He’s volunteered with the non-profit organization, Embrace Delaware, as well the Charlton and Kent County Community schools.

“By sixth or seventh grade, I found out that this is what I wanted to do as far as careers go,” said Coyle.

“I love seeing the look on kids’ faces when they realize they have the potential to do great things and achieve the goals that they set for themselves,” said Coyle. “I learn a lot from the kids, as much as they learn from me.”