Coaching Spotlight: Czar Bloom, Milford High School

Q:  Tell us about yourself.  When did you get started in coaching?  How did you get started?  What is your experience with track and field and cross country?

A:  During my first year as an English teacher, I began as the head
of the boys & girls indoor teams during the 1997-98 winter
season at Milford High School and then added the head position of boys
& /girls outdoor teams in the spring of 1998. I began as the head
coach of the boys & girls cross country teams in the fall of 1998.
I've continued those positions ever since, so I'm completing season
number 13 on the track this spring.

As a native Delawarean of Kent County, my running days began back as a
youth participating in some local 5Ks with my uncle before I became a
member of the W.T. Chipman Middle School cross country team and then
later completed my scholastic running as a four-year veteran and
senior co-captain of the cross country team at Lake Forest High School
in Felton where I graduated in 1991. My love for the sport of running
grew from the legendary Spartan coach Jim Blades who inspired my
future love for coaching the sport as well.

I attended Delaware State University but did not run competitively;
instead, I spent most of my "free" time as a full-time sports
writer/editor for the Delaware State News and Milford Chronicle, as
well as a free lance writer for The News Journal. Of course, my niche
included a love for local track & field and cross country coverage.

Q:  Tell us about your accomplishments as a coach:

 A:  Outdoor track DII state titles: Boys - 2005, 2009; Girls 2006.
Outdoor track Henlopen regular-season title: Boys - 2008.
Outdoor track Henlopen meet championships: Boys - 2005, 2008.
Outdoor track Henlopen divisional titles: Boys - 2003, 2004, 2009;
Girls - 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009.
Indoor track Henlopen titles: Boys - 2008-09, 2009-10.
Cross country Henlopen meet title: Boys - 2009.
Cross country divisional titles: Boys - 1999, 2003; Girls - 2003.

 Q:  Describe your time at Milford.  What have been the keys to your success

A:  Much of my coaching philosophy comes from my great mentor Jim Blades
who supported all of his runners, not just the front-running elite. He
believed in "beating the bushes in the hallways" in hopes of getting
any warm body convinced to join the cross country team. From there, he
worked his magic by motivating us all that we could all get better. He
made being a part of the cross country team something very special;
you wanted to be a part of the team and you wanted to bring your
friends, too. At the same time, we worked very hard and prided
ourselves on working harder than any other athletic program at the
school. No doubt we lived those sayings that show up on T-shirts about
how "our sport is your sport's punishment."  And whether you were fast
or slow, in the front or in the back of the pack, as long as you
worked hard, you'd get better and you would matter. I try to keep that
same energy and spirit. And at the same time, I try to get as many
student athletes participating as possible. Our cross country program
grew to nearly 60 runners strong this fall and the track teams have
reached over a 100. And they still keep coming, so that makes me

Q:  What is your most memorable moment, meet or season?  Why?

A:  Whenever I get asked these types of questions, I never have a specific
moment. It's definitely all the moments -- big or small -- that make
the whole experience. Certainly the championship wins stand out, but
so do the lone victory of a 1-10 season. Each team brings its own
identity each season, and all those great personalities over the years
remain with me. We've had a ton of amazing individuals who still keep
in touch today, and we've also had seasons and seasons sprinkled with
highs and lows. Of course, the entire experience goes well beyond the
track or the trail, as friendships and memories develop over the years
from the simplest times, like on a bus ride home after a tough meet,
at a team spaghetti gathering, or even during a rainy, cold Monday

Q:  What are the teams' goals for this season (boys and girls)?  What's your
analysis of Division 2, Henlopen Conference and your teams' chances?

A:  We’re always trying to raise the bar and improve upon our previous
success, and after last season, it will certainly be tough to do. In
the state meet, Division II appears especially strong with many boys
and girls teams having the opportunity to score points. In the
Henlopen Conference, we have our usual rivalries with teams like
Caesar Rodney and Cape Henlopen which will determine how good we
really are late in the regular season and then into the postseason. As
in past seasons, it will be a true battle; we hope we can be in the
hunt by the time the dust settles.

Q:  Give a description of your perception of track and field in Delaware,
down state especially.  What makes it different from upstate?  Or is it

A:   Well, as a Lake Forest runner back in the day, I’ve always held a lot
of “downstate pride.” The comments about the teams “below the canal”
being inferior do exist, and sometimes they make great bulletin board
material. Of course, just comparing the sheer number of schools,
athletes and resources available, upstate competition does tend to
hold an advantage, but I’ve always tried to take that with a grain of
salt, so to speak. I enjoy having our teams routinely travel to the
upstate invitationals to face deeper competition, and we even go
out-of-state when we can. It allows us “downstate folk” to escape the
small comforts of Slower Lower and see the “big city” experience. :)
And, of course, it’s always nice to see a downstate team gain some
upstate respect every now and then.

 Q:  What are your thoughts on the divisions?  There has been talk of
 improving the caliber of the state meet by combining the divisions in XC and
 outdoor considering the small size of the state and small number of teams.
 What do you think?  Keep the status quo or try something new?

A:  Hmm . . . who knows? There are pros and cons to any alignment, and
truthfully, I think the competition right now is pretty good,
especially more so in Division II which gets deeper every year.
Overall, the state’s depth of competition between both divisions far
exceeds what it did, say, 20 years ago, though during certain cycles
of the past, some stronger teams and athletes may have existed.

Nonetheless, a lot of variables can be pondered: for instance, it only
takes a few strong athletes to win a cross country or even track meet,
so the idea of larger school enrollment translating to success doesn’t
always ring true. But, if we combined all 40+ schools into one
division, teams are more able to win a championship by scoring less
total points since the points are divided amongst so many teams. It
begins to look like the state indoor meet where a team can place well
in a few events and still win a crown. Then, during other years, a
dominant team, or maybe two dominant teams, will come along and topple
any and all competition. So is a divisional meet good or bad? It
really is a matter of perspective, I suppose. In the end, I would just
hope that all teams have an equal and fair opportunity to challenge
for Delaware’s high school state championship . . . or championships
whatever may be determined.