Carnegie Mellon University coach talks about experience at Tokyo Olympics

They’re throwing for gold at the Olympic Games. Large men from all over the world are trying to throw the shot put, discus, javelin and hammer farther than the guy before them. The coach pushing the American men to do just that is from Pittsburgh — CMU’s head track coach Gary Aldrich.

“It’s definitely one of those big time box things that is checked off for sure,” Aldrich said.

Aldrich accepted the coaching offer for more than a year, but with the delay couldn’t tell anyone for months. His wife, son, daughter and father kept the secret all that time.

“I only told my dad, because knowing my mom, she would’ve broadcasted it all over the place,” Aldrich said with a smile.

Aldrich has been at the helm at CMU for 15 years. He’s coached in international competitions before for Team USA, but this is his first Olympics.

“As a young kid, you’re watching the Olympics. I mean, the first memory I have with the Olympics is back in 1968, when I was eight years old, and you always had the dream of competing and representing the country. I’m not there as an athlete, but now I’m going as a coach. And that’s just as special,” Aldrich said.

One of the athletes he’s coaching is PSU alum Joe Kovacs. Kovacs won silver in the shot put in Rio in 2016. Aldrich has worked with Kovacs before and was excited about reconnecting, especially on such a big stage.

Aldrich said he is proud to represent the USA in Tokyo, but he feels he also is representing Carnegie Mellon.

“I’m a little coach from Carnegie Mellon, went to Slippery Rock University, and here I am representing the United States on the world stage,” Aldrich said. “But in reality I’m also representing Carnegie Mellon. And the hope is, that these kids that are in the program and ones we’re recruiting see, no matter what, you can follow your dreams and you can succeed at the highest level.”

Aldrich said he’s disappointed he won’t be able to see other sports at the games because of Tokyo’s lockdown and the pandemic. He’s a huge baseball guy and pre-pandemic, was looking forward to cheering on Team USA.

“But it’s still the Olympics, it’s still going to be an incredible situation,” Aldrich said.