While coaching runners at North Dakota State for over a decade, Jerry Gores left a lasting mark on the program and hundreds of athletes. Since leaving the profession, he has continued to make an impact wherever he goes.
Women’s Cross Country and Women’s Track & Field
Prior to coming to NDSU, Gores spent time coaching at both Northern Arizona and then Minot State. Once he reached NDSU, there was a lot of work to do and not a lot of time.
“I got the job in August, two weeks before school, to coach cross country,” Gores said. “I had never coached cross country. But it ended up being a good thing. Because I had a lot to learn, I asked the upperclassmen to come in and talk to me about what they did and didn’t like. From there, we started a program based around culture.”
That culture revolved largely around leadership and communication. Gores would have meetings every Monday with the leadership team. He would also send out a consistent newsletter with meet schedules and updates on PRs (personal records). Gores also attributes a lot of success to the “Little Sister” program he set up where each freshman who came in was given a big sister, someone to turn to for advice as well as a person to make sure they were doing the things they were supposed to be doing.
When it came to the training aspect of things, Gores relied heavily on “working from the top-down”. Meaning, rather simply recruiting and trying to build those athletes into the best that they could be—make no mistake, this was part of the process as well—he also did careful research to determine what marks his athletes needed to hit and then worked from there.
“I’m very analytical, so we broke down all of the events in the conference over the last five years and calculated the averages for first place, second place and third place,” Gores said. “That helped me figure out the types of athletes I needed to recruit to the program in order to compete. It also helped me in planning our practices. I was able to base all of our workouts off of those times that we’d calculate.
Those goals led Gores to develop some pretty intense workouts, but he also was ahead of his time in making sure that his teams prioritized recovery as well.
“You have to do the body justice during the recovery process, and a lot of people didn’t do that back in the old days,” Gores said. “We did a lot of pool workouts, ice baths and tried to make sure the kids had enough time to recover.” Whatever the methods, no one can argue with the results. Jerry Gores is one of the best to ever do it in his profession.
“I really liked being a motivator and watching those kids develop both academically, emotionally and competitively,” Gores said. “The other thing I felt really good about was the way I treated my athletes. I coached these women as athletes because they were athletes. I didn’t separate men and women. I coached them as athletes and I respected them as athletes.
Jerry Goares’ NDSU Athletic Achievements
12X NCC Coach of the Year Award winner
6X NCAA Division Il Central Region Coach of the Year Award Winner
Coached 49 ATHLETES to 195 AllAmerican honors, including 22 All-America relay teams
National Indoor Coach of the Year
tap-10 team finishes at the NCAA Division II Championships
4 top-4 finishes at national meets IBX NCC Conference Champion Coached OS INDIVIDUAL NCC champions
18X NCC Conference Champion
Coached 65 Individual NCC champions
Did You Know?
Jerry Gores was named a National Coach of the Year and National Sales Representative of the Year.
However, like all good things, Gores’ tenure with NDSU came to an end.
“Eventually, I wanted to get out of the coaching lifestyle,” Gores said. “It can be a lot, working long hours seven days a week. I also wanted to be a dad and it can be hard to do that with a schedule like that.”
When Gores did leave, he did so in a fashion that is uncommon in American sports—when he was on his way to the top. Gores wound up leaving the best team he had ever coached, a crew that finished 4th at the NCAA Division II National Indoor Championships comprised of mostly freshman and sophomores. In 2001, many of those same athletes played a pivotal role in securing the 2001 NCAA Division II Indoor National Championship.
“I really wanted to leave the program in a good place,” Gores said. “That was important to me.”
Upon leaving, Gores wasted no time, finding his new career as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Ely Lilly a week after his final indoor meet.
“It was scary,” Gores said. “The hardest thing was saying goodbye that last day of practice. Some of the kids were mad. Some kids were happy for me but sad for themselves. Some were just happy to get rid of me, but it was very emotional for me.”
While Gores may have been done coaching for the time being, he wasn’t done utilizing his skills as a recruiter. “I may have been a better recruiter than a coach,” Gores said.
In his new role, those skills came in handy.
“When you’re recruiting, you really need to recruit the whole family because you don’t know who is really going to make the decision. It could be the mom, the dad, the athlete or the little brother,” Gores said. “I tried to utilize the same mindset in sales. I didn’t know if the receptionist, the nurse, the physician, or somebody else was going to have input on buying from me or not. So, I tried to treat them all as the customer.”
Those “recruiting” skills helped Gores achieve similar heights to what he did at NDSU during his 17 years at Eli Lily. He was even named National Sales Representative of the Year in 2005.
However, Gores didn’t stay away from coaching for long. Upon leaving Eli Lilly he founded Jerry Gores Speed and Agility program, originally, in order to work with his two sons and their friends. Not surprisingly, the program was a success and Gores ended up working with hundreds of athletes throughout the area.
Now 67, Gores is back, beginning a new sales role in the pharmaceutical industry with Novartis and currently, Gores lives with his wife of over 21 years, Gail, who has been teaching in the nursing department at NDSU for the last 10 years. He has two sons, John and Grant and one stepson, Max Erdle. Currently, John is preparing for his first season in North Dakota State’s football program, Grant is a youth hockey coach with the Fargo Angles and a sophomore at NDSU majoring in Management Information Systems and Max is the Owner of Home Escapes Remodeling.