Legendary track and field coach Frank “Gags” Gagliano has been in the business for 55 years. Now in his seventh year with the HOKA New Jersey New York Track Club (NJNYTC), he’s taking on the 110th NYRR Millrose Games, “The world’s longest-running and most prestigious indoor track and field competition,” on February 11 at The Armory’s New Balance Track and Field Center. Gagliano will coach three of his star athletes—Kyle Merber, Johnny Gregory and Colby Alexander—in the NYRR Men’s Wanamaker Mile event.
Turning 80 years old in March, Gagliano has yet to grow tired of doing what he loves and knows best. From his first coaching stint at Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey to his role as director of track and field at Georgetown University, he’s gained a lot of experience, which he now shares with his post-collegiate players.
“I’ve got to want it and they’ve got to want it to achieve their goals,” Gagliano said. “All of them are college graduates and they’ve all given [me] four years.”
Under his supervision, 16 of the NJNYTC members made it to the U.S. Olympic Trials last July, with cross country and track runner Donn Cabral successfully making his way to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last August.
As of November, Deckers Brands’ athletic shoe label HOKA ONE ONE partnered up with the NJNYTC as the track club’s exclusive sponsor. This was a big move in terms of lessening the pressure on fundraising efforts, but also a literal “big move” in terms of relocating the club’s headquarters from Dunellen, N.J. to Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
However, this has not proved to be a problem for Rye, N.Y., resident Gagliano, as well as assistants Tom Nohilly and John Trautmann who also live nearby. “[The move] has been really great because we all live within five miles of each other in Westchester County,” Gagliano said. “We can come in [to The Armory] on the morning train. It’s been a pleasure.”
Hopefully, close proximity to the track will serve as an advantage for the group and bring them closer to success at this year’s Millrose Games.