Pfaff on the move

Two athletes take initiative to keep Stockton training center going

By The Record
October 24, 2008 6:00 AM

Here’s a little Olympic spirit for you: when things go south, find another route.

That’s just what two Olympic track and field athletes are doing.

Amy Acuff of Isleton and Modesto’s Suzy Powell-Roos are going to stay with their program and stay in Stockton. They are doing this despite the fact that their funding has dried up and their coach has left town.

It would have been a lot easier just to find another place to train, a new coach, other funding. And some of that, they undoubtedly will do. But they’ll do it in Stockton.

Last spring and summer, in preparation for the Beijing Games in August, a warehouse at the Port of Stockton became a training facility for a cadre of Olympic veterans and hopefuls. Among them were Acuff and Powell-Roos, former teammates at UCLA.

Money was a problem, as it always is, even for elite athletes, for those who must train for years for a shot at the Games. Nobody training in the cavernous warehouse at the port under the auspices of Tri-Valley Athletics was picking up an endorsement check.

But athletes from throughout the nation came to Stockton, many to work under renowned coach Dan Pfaff. Eleven athletes who trained extensively with Pfaff went to the Games, including Acuff and three-time Olympian Powell-Roos.

But Pfaff took a job at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, and Jim and Michelle Doggett, owners of Tri-Valley Athletics, moved their operations to their Livermore home, where they’re running a pole vaulting club.

Rather than walking away from it, Acuff and Powell-Roos worked out a business plan, renewed the lease with the port and are doing the paperwork to set up a nonprofit organization. In six months, they hope to be interviewing coach candidates. Meanwhile, a half-dozen athletes already are training in the warehouse, preparing for the next track and field season.

They wouldn’t be there if Acuff and Powell-Roos hadn’t stayed. That’s a gold medal performance.

It’s sad that Pfaff and his group of athletes have to scramble for money like some sort of Salvation Army volunteer. Maybe Dan Pfaff can help Tom Green break 10.7 again if he’s still hanging around the OTC :slight_smile: