Steve Nelson Goes the Extra Mile

For Immediate Release
Date: February 1, 2015
Contact: Amy Sorensen (801) 554-6988
Steve Nelson Goes the Extra Mile
Simplot Games Highlights this Outstanding Coach from San Jose, Calif.
Pocatello, Idaho – Having one of your athletes make an Olympic team would seem to be the ultimate dream for any coach. Coach Steve Nelson of the Cardinal Track Club in San Jose, Calif., is part of a rare group, having had a number of his athletes go on to make U.S. Olympic teams. Nelson and his staff have coached athletes such as 1992 Olympian Ed Lasquete, who competed in the pole vault, and most recently, London Olympic gold medalist Jeneba Tarmoh, who ran in the 4×100-meter relay.
Coach Nelson is also the head track coach at Mt. Pleasant High School. During his time at Mt. Pleasant, his team has won a combined 14 Central Coast Section Championships and was the State Champion in 2007.
When it comes to the business of training top athletes, Nelson seems to have it down. However, even more impressive is the impact Coach Nelson is having off of the track. For him, the greatest joy of working with high school aged kids is being able to help them realize their self-worth and reach their full potential. He enjoys seeing development not only athletically, but in many other facets of life as well.
Nelson contributes to this development not only by getting his kids involved in athletics, but by setting high standards for their academic success.
“One thing that we strive for in our club is that all of our kids go to college,” he says, whether they continue to run track or not. This motivation has translated into a college graduation rate of around 90 percent for his athletes.
As he fulfills his role as both a coach and a mentor, Nelson seems most moved when he’s able to see track help his students overcome difficulties in their lives. He strongly believes that just getting a kid involved can have an incredibly positive ripple effect.
Nelson speaks of one student in particular whose track experience led him to start setting goals in his athletic life, which then led to setting goals academically. He was eventually able to lift himself from a 0.00 GPA as a freshman to a high school graduate in four years and is now in college.
“As coaches, we all want to have Olympic-level athletes, and we’ve been blessed to have a couple of those here that we’re excited about,” says Nelson. “But at the same time, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that boy and the work that he put in to just become a better person.”
For Nelson, participating in track helps students see their greater potential, and to envision the impact they could have on the world. Because of this and other experiences, Nelson feels that regardless of whether kids are star athletes or at the back of the pack, if they will work hard and set goals, they can turn their lives around.
To Nelson, Simplot Games provides the perfect opportunity to help his athletes grow as it gives them a meaningful experience outside of their community.
“We look forward to going [to Simplot Games] every year just because of the experience,”
Nelson says, “It’s a fantastic, competitive situation. Simplot has a place for everybody. It has a place for the elite athletes and a place for the emerging kids who are just coming up and getting into it.”
He adds for many kids, the experience is once in a lifetime.
Greg Burch, the Simplot Games meet director, has been impressed by the impact Coach Nelson has had.
“Steve Nelson has been a long time participant at Simplot Games,” he says. “Over the years he has brought many outstanding young student-athletes to the meet on their way to successful collegiate careers. It is because of coaches like Steve that Simplot Games has had so much success for so many years.”
This year will mark Nelson’s twentieth year of attendance as he plans to bring around 20 athletes to the Games, his biggest team yet.
“Going to Simplot Games is kind of our big reward for the kids on our club team,” he says. “It’s so welcoming and so organized, that you’ve just got to go.”
More than 2,000 athletes will come from across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Australia to participate in the 37th annual Simplot Games. Simplot Games remains the nation’s premier high school indoor track and field event. Sponsored by the J.R. Simplot Company since 1979, the Simplot Games are held at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho.
For more information on Simplot Games, please visit our website at You may also contact Lisa Woodland at (208) 235-5673 or Simplot Games Media Team at
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