Trinity Classical Academy announced the hiring of Olympic gold medalist Keshia Kirtz as the latest head track and field coach on Friday.
“I’ve always had real strong Christian mentors in my sports growing up and for me, it’s more like paying it forward,” Kirtz said. “I always had that in my life and that has helped me when I couldn’t talk to my parents or just needing other role models and having that in terms of helping me make decisions as I’m transitioning out of high school. I just want to be that.”
Kirtz is originally from Northern California, but currently lives in Palmdale. She has a four-year-old son who will attend Trinity starting in August and the desire to be active in her son’s school motivated her to apply for the job.
She is an accomplished runner herself, having earned a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics as part of Team USA’s 1600-meter relay team.
Before that, Kirtz attended Fairfield High School, then ran for the University of Oregon, where she is a six-time school record holder. At the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships, she was a runner-up in the 400.
She is currently training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics while working as a Kaiser Permanente Senior Learning Consultant at Panorama City Medical Center.
“I definitely understand what the athletes are going to go through,” Kirtz said. “I have a list of creative workouts that I’m so excited to give to them. So I’ve kind of been there. I know what they go through, I know the pain they’re going through.”
Although coaching the Knights will be her first job as a head coach, Kirtz has already spent time training athletes. She was a volunteer coach under Quincy Watts, who is also her professional coach, at California State University, Northridge and has also done private individual coaching.
Kirtz will train the Knights at Castaic Middle School when the track and field season gets underway, but she plans on having them run plenty of the hills and trails that the Santa Clarita Valley has to offer.
She also has the long-term goal of expanding the Trinity track program to include all hurdle, jumping and throwing events. The immediate focus, however, is to improve each athlete as an individual.
“I want each one of the kids to be able to run a personal best or just accomplish some of the goals that they’re setting out,” she said. “We haven’t officially started practice, so I haven’t been able to talk to the kids, but I want to be there to support them, help them, guide them.
“One of the things I love about track and sports in general that really transfers to the real-life workplace is setting goals, being disciplined, learning how to work for something and having that patience to actually receive the reward.”
Trinity sent one athlete, long jumper Quentin Thompson, to the CIF-Southern Section finals last season.
The Knights’ first practice of the 2020 track and field season will be Feb. 10.
“I’m just really excited,” Kirtz said. I’m glad they’re putting their trust in me as far as this position.”