NWAC Track & Field Champion Takes the Reins

Lance Giles looks to bring success and discipline to EvCC’s Track & Field Team


Track & Field Coach Lance Giles shouts encouragement to his runners near the end of practice

EvCC named Lance Giles the new head coach of the track and field program on January 24th after multiple months of vacancy. Giles is taking over a role previously occupied by Julian Bardwell, who moved on from the program after he became an assistant at Seattle U.

Giles grew up in West Seattle, saying “I had to work for everything, that was just a policy in the house.” Giles was part of a middle class family but that didn’t mean he didn’t have to work hard for money. From age 11-14 he spent summers helping his father dig a basement in the house. “We got paid 50 cents an hour (eight hours a day), my allowance was a dollar a month,” stated Giles. The exhausting days of working in the summer was a catalyst for Giles to develop a passion for sports in an effort to avoid his job.

Giles’s father knew that this wasn’t going to be easy for the 14 year old, but digging was his idea of teaching Giles a valuable lesson in hard work. “If you believe in the process, if you’re consistent and you chip at it every single day, it has to work…..it has to.” Giles went to Spokane Community College on an athletic scholarship after playing football, basketball and track in high school. The basement job in the summer changed Giles’ mentality, “If I can do that(the basement job), there’s nothing that intimidates me,” Giles said.

According to Giles, he wasn’t the most gifted athlete growing up and would constantly find himself being picked last for teams, “I was kinda fat and asthmatic….I just wasn’t coordinated,” said Giles. However, that didn’t stop him. He continued to improve each year during his high school career. As stated by Giles, during his senior year he became one of the best track athletes in Washington state. Giles’ work ethic and pressure he applied to himself to perform throughout his childhood allows him to relate to the stresses student athletes face today.

For Giles, it’s all about making his athletes happy and relieving the pressure they face internally and externally. “Being happy is running as fast as you’re capable of running, playing whatever sport to your capabilities, that will make(you) happy,” Giles said. To relieve the pressure, Giles wants his athletes to just worry about themselves and the EvCC track team, he calls it a bubble.

Discipline is an important mantra for coach Giles. According to Giles, if practice was at 3 and a teammate showed up at 2:50, that person was late. That mantra was expected from every athlete at Kennedy High School. “My job is to help you guys become productive adult citizens,” says Giles in an interview. While growing up, GIles always learned to do more than what you have to do, not doing just enough to get by. It wasn’t until Giles senior year that he figured this out, “it cost me,” said Giles.

His GPA plummeted because of this. He had to go to a junior college instead, but according to Giles, that was the best thing to happen to him. Giles eventually attended Spokane Community College where he was an athlete under future Hall of Fame Coach John Buck in what was the beginning of a dominant stretch of success in Track and Field.

Giles was a member of the 1975 and 1976 NWAC Championship Track and Field teams. From 1973-1988, Spokane won 16 straight men’s track and field titles. Giles yearns at the opportunity to build a high quality track program at EvCC. “I know what it looks like, I know what it feels like because I was in it.” I’m gonna build that here, I’m going to do it,” says Giles in reference to his Spokane days.

Giles first head coaching opportunity was at his alma mater, the Pacific University of Oregon. While there, he became the youngest track and field coach at a 4-year institution in the country at age 26 in 1981. From there, Lance went overseas to Saudi Arabia to coach the Track and Field Military and National team. He also served as an assistant for the men’s basketball team before returning home in the 90s to work as a private coach.

In 1996, Giles founded Self Esteem Through Athletics(SETA). “I think the two most important words in anybody’s life our self esteem, how you feel about yourself,” said Giles. According to EvCC’s website, it’s a program that teaches young men and women the importance of education, self worth and to provide students with an opportunity to further their education beyond high school. SETA has accumulated:

11 national championships, 8 national records, 10 state record holders in high school(indoor and outdoor), 17 state championships, 16 world championships medals in masters t&f(age 35&up), 5 masters world records(100m, 200m, 400m, 4x200m relay) and 22 Division I and II collegiate athletic scholarships.

Coach Giles is here to turn EvCC into a high quality track program but maybe most importantly, he’s here to make student athletes become quality adult citizens, “doing more than you have to do, doing more than is required. That’s how you get to be successful in life, period.”