Tom “Tinman” Schwartz Is No Longer Coaching Drew Hunter and Tinman Elite

By LetsRun.com
April 22, 2021

LRC update on April 25. This article was initially published on April 22. The publication of this article resulted in a lengthy messageboard discussion. In that thread on April 23rd, Tammy Schwartz, Tom Schwartz’s wife, made a 1,435-word post defending her husband (Since then, she’s made a few other minor posts clarifying a few points). Perhaps in reply to her post or to questions raised in the forum, the Tinman Elite have also issued a a statement. We have added both Tammy’s initial posts as well as the Tinman Elite’s statement to the bottom of this document.

LetsRun.com has learned coach Tom “Tinman” Schwartz and Drew Hunter are no longer working together in a coach-athlete capacity.

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“Yes, I’m no longer working with Drew and the rest of the Tinman Elite. I’m proud of the work we’ve done together. It’s been great to help guide him to a Foot Locker national xc title, to US HS indoor records in the mile (3:57) and 3k (7:59), and then see him as a pro win a US title and knock those times down to 3:35 and 7:39 and make a World’s team. I wish him the best of luck moving forward,” wrote Schwartz in a statement to LetsRun.com.

It remains to be determined what will happen to the Tinman Elite brand, which was established based on Schwartz’s nickname or what lies next for Schwartz in a professional capacity.

“I would prefer that they change the name of the organization,” said Schwartz. “I am Tinman and don’t want there to be any confusion.”

One of the most established elite online distance coaches in the world, Schwartz still plans to stay involved with the sport through his online coaching but he will also look for a traditional job, such as high school teaching and team coaching. Prior to 2019, when Schwartz relocated his family from Idaho to Colorado per the team’s request to work with the Tinman Elite group, he was a teacher in addition to online coach. Schwartz will be awarded a Ph.D. in Health and Human Performance from Concordia University Chicago next month.

Hunter and Schwartz at Foot Lockers in December 2015 (photo courtesy Tom Schwartz)

Tinman currently coaches many of the top US high school runners in the country, including four boys whom he has been working with since the end of 8th grade — all of whom have run 8:54 or faster for 2 miles. One of them, Rheinhardt Harrison, set the US age-16 record of 4:01.34 in the full mile last summer. 

Prior to publication, we reached out to Drew and Joan Hunter for comment and Joan issued the following statement:

“Yes, this is true that Drew Hunter and the rest of the Tinman Elite crew have parted ways with Coach Schwartz. We are grateful to Tom for coaching this team to the success it has attained up to this point.  This decision was extremely hard to make for Drew and the whole Tinman crew. At the moment, Tinman Elite is using a team of coaches, physiologists, therapists, etc. working together to best position the Tinmen for the Olympic trials and/or to make their respective country’s Olympic Team. Cory Leslie is currently providing the day-to-day coaching while consulting with Joan and Marc Hunter.”

Everything above was in our initial article. The new information appears below.

Post By Tammy Schwartz on 4/23/21

Wow, there are a lot of folks on here speculating this or that about this entire situation with Coach Tinman, Tinman Elite and Drew. Here are the facts because I feel this needs to be shared to stop all the BS comments on this thread. Time to rock-n-roll!

Fact: Coach Tinman did not leave Tinman Elite. He was told over the phone that his services were no longer needed. The team voted by the raise of a hand “yes” or “no”. He was told that the team voted unanimously “no we don’t want his coaching services”. Not every athlete on the team really agreed to this, but they had no choice because it was not an anonymous voting system. The guys that wanted to stay with Coach Tinman had no choice, but to agree, because they would not have the financial backing to continue their running career. Ya, what a shame! Here is the dinger, they never gave Coach Tinman a reason for letting him go. Even Drew never told his Coach. How unprofessional on their part…pretty sad.

Fact: I have a hunch that the Tinman guys didn’t like their Head Coach giving them friendly reminders in their team meetings to quit the F- bombing posts and inappropriate gestures on their social media. Any Head Coach for any team wants their team to display a good image to the public…especially a semi-pro team that is popular with today’s youth. You certainly don’t see other professional running teams doing this. But no Tinman Elite runners think its cool, hip, to flip the bird and use profanity on your social medial posts. As a parent I wouldn’t want my kid to follow Tinman Elite just for that one reason.

Fact: Coach Tinman never had a contract with Adidas!

Fact: Coach Tinman has nothing to do with the Hammer & Axe training plans or $$ gained from them. They are cookie cutter plans derived from what they have learned from Tinman. Do you really think these guys have the credentials to Coach your middle school kids or high school kids. Heck no! Tinman has credentials and proven experience with results. PhD in Health & Human Performance/Exercise Science, USATF Level 3 in: Youth Specialization and Endurance Coaching, plus Level 5 IAAF Elite Endurance Certification and former collegiate coaching. None of the Tinman Elite runners have any experience coaching, nor credentials. They are using a dummied down version of Coach Tinman’s training just to make $. They were told to not use Coach Tinman’s training methods for their personal gains financially.

Fact: Coach Tinman coached most of the Tinman guys for free for one year before being asked to relocate to Colorado and be the Head Coach for Tinman Elite. He was paid a small monthly salary of a couple thousand, compared to what other Head Coaches make, which is $75k to $300K or more. Yes, I agree he should of had a formal contract before making the move from Idaho to Colorado.

Fact: Drew paid his Coach for a very small salary (a beginners teacher salary) and they did have a good relationship, until a certain individual got involved. Jealousy might be the evil doer behind all this.

Fact: Drew has a big heart and helped finance several of the Tinman Elite guys to help this club get started. Coach Tinman gave up a lot financially to help in the cause too. Unselfish acts by both.

Fact: Coach Tinman has not received one penny for all the Tinman merchandise sold. He encouraged the guys to start selling merchandise to help support their needs such as: strength coach fees, massage therapy, nutritionist, chiro fees, traveling, entry, the list is endless. They needed something to help them pay for all the little things that make a difference to get to the next level like the big dawgs in the running world Nike, New Balance, Brooks Beast etc.

Fact: Coach Tinman did not control the Tinman Elite. They controlled him. He had no say in what meets to attend, where to stay, when to arrive , training places, etc. So if Coach Tinman advised them to run in this meet or go here to train…it was planned then oops all of sudden the boys didn’t want to attend at the last minute. Coach Tinman would make arrangements to travel for training camps, show up, and then some of the guys would change their plans at a moments notice….not show up.

Fact: Coach Tinman has helped Joan for many years with her training plans. He gave her endless free advise on a moments notice either via email or a phone call to adjust training for her team and individual runners on her high school team. His help aided in her team success when she needed it. Yes there is nothing wrong from learning from others. It helps you become a better coach. Coach Tinman NEVER charged Joan any money for his help.

Fact: Coach Tinman’s Elite runners don’t always get injured. Have you ever thought that other contributing factors outside of training methods, play into how runners may get injured? Not following coaches training plan, sleep, running in meets not advised, running hard on easy days, not following through with physical therapy or massage therapy, doing other sporting activities that could cause you to get injured, or most importantly lack of proper nutrition. This team paved their own destiny, by doing what they wanted and when they wanted to do this or that.

Fact: Coach Tinman does not go behind High School Coaches to coach athletes on their teams. He asks the athletes parents to talk to the Head Coach first to make sure there will be no conflicts. If there are conflicts he does not Coach the athlete. Many times he ends up talking and working with the Head Coach for the benefit of the entire team. He charges a fair amount just like any other coaching service. He has to pay his bills just like you and support his family!

Fact: A few of you call Coach Tinman a dick based on you listening to his podcasts or watching his video’s. The man has a PhD, he is full of knowledge and when he gets on a roll, yes he likes to share and educate just like Vigil. How on earth can you judge a person without even meeting them? Coach Tinman gets endless emails and telephone calls from coaches, parents, and runners from all over the world and responds to them. I would not exactly call him a dick for doing this. Don’t judge anyone until you have met them in person or talked to them.

I’m furious and completely disappointed in the Tinman Elite team and what you have done not only to Coach “Tinman” Schwartz, but to my entire family. You took advantage of him, you used him and abused him. You took his name “Tinman” which was well known before you even existed and profit $$$. Heck, you didn’t even give our family a small % of what you profit off his name, which is unethical. I myself wanted to share this information because the truth needs to be told. I’m tired of people bashing and speculating this and that. I guess we as a family learned a valuable lesson, that is to never trust a bunch of 20 year old’s and relocate without a solid contract backed by a lawyer. We will move on with our lives, as you will too. I just ask that you NEVER do this to another Coach…the way you did this to my husband and my family. It was wrong, unprofessional, immature and completely petty. You still have not given my husband ONE reason as to why you let him go. It certainly has nothing to do with your performances. The majority of you guys have run PR’s under my husbands guidance.

Lastly, Drew I sure wished you would of stuck to your promise of continuing to work with Coach Tinman. My husband believed in you and we moved to Colorado to support you! You distanced yourself from him, blamed him for your performance when you did not do the little things needed to take care of yourself, you certainly didn’t listen to his advise, and trained differently then what he prescribed for you. You were also influenced by your buddy, the media and your Mom. My advise: Have a growth mindset, make your own decisions, act like a professional runner, and focus on YOUR FUTURE, not the Tinman Elite Team. Control your own destiny or someone else will!

Best,
Tammy Schwartz

LRC Note: Additional clarifying posts by Tammy posting under the moniker “Runnerconnection” can be found here: #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 #7 #8, #9, #10.

TINMAN ELITE STATEMENT, 4/25/21

Update: On April 25th, Tinman Elite issued the following statement on the coaching change:

First and foremost, we’d like to address our silence about the decision to part ways with Coach Schwartz. Our initial mutual aim with Coach Schwartz was to keep this news confidential until after the Olympic Trials in an effort to provide Coach Schwartz with time and space to determine his future coaching endeavors and to allow our athletes to focus on their Olympic goals.

It became clear to the team that Coach Schwartz’s growing commercial coaching business and other pursuits made him unable to provide the individualized attention that the team needed in order to stay healthy and succeed long term. Despite parting ways with Coach Schwartz, the team has continued to uphold the mutually agreed upon compensation we committed to provide in our initial coaching agreement, allowing him time and support as he determines his next steps.

We wish Coach Schwartz well, thank him for his time with the team, and will work with him to address any additional concerns he may have. At this time, our team is focused on the future—the upcoming Olympic Trials and working to uphold our mission of pushing the sport of running forward through positive community outreach and athletic performance.

Thank you for the support.

– Tinman Elite


Related: From The LRC Archives: 2016: Meet The Elementary School PE Teacher Who Is The Mastermind Behind America’s Greatest Prep Distance Runner

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