Coaches’ Profle: Erik and Katie Chaput

Sports  /  by James Wellemeyer '18  /  February 10, 2017

Alex Baker '19/The Lawrence

Girls Varsity Indoor Track Head Coach Katie Chaput and Boys Varsity Indoor Track Head Coach Erik Chaput joined the Lawrenceville community together in 2013 and have since then collaborated to bolster both the boys and girls teams to undeniably successful records in the past four years.

The two certainly did not share a similar path into the sport. Erik Chaput “started [his] own running career when [he] was in ninth grade [...and] ran track and field the summer before that at a summer program,” he said. After finding a love for the sport early, Erik Chaput continued to run throughout high school in Providence, Rhode Island. Conversely, Katie Chaput’s running career began more because of a necessity than a genuine interest for the sport at the time. Growing up, she lived with five siblings, and her older brothers and sisters would often “ride their bikes together, so [her] parents said [she] could go with them and run if [she] could keep up.”

Whereas Katie Chaput did continue to run after high school, Erik Chaput suffered a knee injury during his senior year, preventing him from doing the same. Even though he could not run, he still wished to remain active in the track community. Thus, he launched his coaching career while attending Providence College. Erik Chaput still looks most fondly upon his high school running career, though. “I was on a very competitive high school team, [...so] the relay experience and the team atmosphere of it was what I remembered the most. I always look back and think about the guys on my relay team,” he said.

Katie Chaput, on the other hand, ran the steeplechase at Syracuse University. She captained her team there during both her junior and senior years, and she earned Big East honors in the 3000m steeplechase as a senior. She called herself a “very competitive person,” so one of her favorite aspects of her college running career was the competition.

Erik Chaput is just as—if not more—competitive, and both the boys and girls track teams at Lawrenceville can surely attest to this characteristic based on his behavior at meets. “I like the competitiveness of [meets],” he said. “At times in a race, it’s you versus yourself, or you versus the clock out there, [...and] I can be intense.” Katie Chaput, however, “[enjoys] going out there, seeing people put in a lot of work and get results. It’s so immediate that you can actually measure it,” she said.

Though Katie and Erik Chaput do officially coach two separate teams, they collaborate on matters ranging from scheduling transportation to designing practices and workouts. Katie Chaput has noticed, though, that she “often [finds herself] dealing more with the emotional level, whereas he is very mathematical in planning, a little bit tougher in how he encourages. [...] If someone has bad news—like they’re hurt—they come to me because of his intensity,” she said. “We definitely have different personalities that we bring to the track,” Erik Chaput said, further acknowledging that he and his wife are both “very detail-oriented and [...] spend a lot of time planning workouts.”

Possibly the greatest advantage Lawrenceville’s track teams have over other schools’ teams is Erik and Katie Chaput, particularly the fact that their conversations about the sport extend beyond 5:30 PM every day. “We’re always talking about runners case by case, discussing what they’re doing wrong, what they can do differently. It’s nice to have someone to talk about that with. We see other coaches all the time who say, ‘You’re so lucky because my wife or husband doesn’t understand [...] track,’” Katie Chaput said. But perhaps those conversations extend too long, Katie Chaput suggested. “I tell him to stop talking about track sometimes. Literally, that’s all he talks about when we get home. If we have a meet, that’s all he talks about for the next two hours.”