Canyon graduate and former University of Kansas NCAA 400 meter hurdles national champion Michael Stigler has given his time training young athletes from the Amarillo area over the past two weeks. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]Former Canyon High great and current professional track star Michael Stigler is making the most of his down time during the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stigler, who now resides in Austin, has made his way back home to the Texas Panhandle for the past two weeks, passing on his knowledge to a younger generation. The 28-year old has used his spare time training and coaching area athletes, 9-years old and up, teaching them the foundation of endurance.
“This was a good time for me to come back home and train young athletes,” Stigler said. “I want to help them develop some good speed work, also help them become quick and mobile. It’s just nice to be back home and helping out.”
Brooklyn Kinsey, who will be an eighth grader at Canyon junior high this fall was one of Stigler’s students Tuesday. Kinsey says learning from a prestigious athlete like Stigler is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It’s been really fun to learn from him (Michael),” Kinsey said. “He teaches you so many different things that you are able to go home and continue to do. He shows you how to work on your speed, your agility, resistance and balance. It has really helped me a ton.”
Canyon head football coach Blake Bryant keeps a close relationship to Stigler to this day. Bryant says seeing Stigler share his experience and knowledge with today’s youth exemplifies the person he is.
“Ever since Michael was in high school he was wise beyond years,” Bryant said. “He sees the big picture of sports and what it means to kids. All he is tries to do is pour it back into Canyon. He comes to our camps, and always speaks to our kids. He does Zoom meetings with our junior high. He’s just one of best guy i’ve better been around.”
Michael Stigler, who is signed professionally with Adidas, was preparing to run in the United States 2020 summer Olympic Trials in June before the coronavirus pandemic postponed the Olympics to the summer of 2021. [Photo by Kansas athletics]
COVID-19 has effected so many athletes since March, and Stigler is in that boat. Since winning a NCAA Division I 400 meter hurdles national championship at the University of Kansas in 2015, Stigler had his eyes solely squared on competing in the Olympic games. Out of college, Stigler signed a professional contract with Adidas, and ever since has competed across the globe. An injury kept him from his dream of running for the United States during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2017, the 5-foot-10 smooth striding Stigler placed second USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, running a personal-best 48.26.
This spring, Stigler was prepping for his shot at the 2020 summer Olympic Trials in June until the news broke the Olympics were being moved to 2021.
“This is an unprecedented time,” Stigler said. “We’ve never dealt with anything like this but I just control what I can control. I’m still training right now. You don’t want to lose fitness. I’m just going to control what I can control, and continue to train and build. I want what I’m doing now to carry over into next year. I’m just continuing to build and not shutting it down. The anticipation is going to be high and I want to be ready”