The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are now underway in Eugene, Oregon, and while everyone’s focus will be on Sydney McLaughlin, Sports Illustrated is shining a light on Edrick Floreal, the man behind the scenes. Chris Chavez just published this in-depth profile of Kentucky’s track coach, whose perfectionist approach turned UK from one of the worst programs in the SEC to one of the best in the country.
A lot of the profile describes Floreal’s background, but an equal part deals with how he’s coaching McLaughlin, one of the most talented runners in the country. Like a certain basketball coach, Floreal has no problem with Sydney being a one-and-done if she chooses. This weekend’s event could be her last in a Kentucky uniform and Floreal is fine with that, not one to hold her back from a lucrative professional career.
“Sydney wants to set the world on fire,” Floreal adds. “I tell her that she’s Beyonce and I’m the manager. My job is to make sure the drummer drums correctly. I make sure the beat stops when she pauses. I make sure the dancers zig when she zigs and zag when she zags. I help make sure that the lights turn on correctly—not too bright but make sure it doesn’t reflect too bad. I’m just the guy making sure that everything is being orchestrated correctly. She’s the star and puts on the show.”
You can watch Sydney in the semifinals of the 400m hurdles and the 4x400m relay tonight on ESPN2 starting around 9 p.m. ET. Until then, take some time to read the profile of Floreal at Sports Illustrated.