Serving two training areas:  Western Springs/Downers Grove and Orland Park/Tinley Park

Welcome to the Chicago Flyers Track Club!

A fine history of developing a passion for running in youth through excellent training, fun and team values.

Coaching Staff

Coaching Staff
Michelle Gagnard Founder/Head Coach

Coach Gagnard founded the Chicago Flyers in 2009 to provide a  safe, technically accurate and age-appropriate training environment which which serves all kids, regardless of ability.  Coach Gagnard has been fortunate to train  2 National Champions, 15 State Champions and  23 Top 10 National Athletes. The Flyers cross country teams have won the  AAU State XC Championship twice, in 2020 won the  Northern National AAU XC Championship and  four times placed as a top 3 team at the Cross Country Coaches National Youth Championship with 12 top 20 medalist.  The most important accomplishment is that over 1600 athletes in the Chicagoland area have learned to embrace their talents and have fun running for the Flyers.  The majority of the kids in the program continue in track/cross country in high school.  In 2019, 25 former Flyers were running for their D1 and D3 college programs.  It is important to note that none of this would be possible without the dedication of the coaches, parents, AAU/USATF, and the community and partnerships of area running clubs.

In a year like no other, 2020, Coach Michelle Gagnard was a Regional Winner of  the Positive Coaching Alliance's  Double-Goal Coach Award® by TeamSnap because of the impact the Chicago Flyers have had on student-athletes in a time when it is needed most.  

In addition to the leading the Flyers, Coach Michelle offers private training for high school athletes, leads clinics for the Orland Park Soccer Club and  speed clinics for multi-sport athletes.

Prior to founding the Chicago Flyers, Coach Gagnard was the Sprint Coach at Los Altos High School, CA,  founded a youth triathlon club, was a CARA learn-to-run instructor, and taught performance groups.  Michelle  is dedicated to helping children grow in their personal confidence and character. 

Coach Gagnard is a lifetime learner, constantly challenging multi-sport training systems to create the best athletes using science.    She is USATF Level 1 certified and USATF Level 2 in Sprints/Hurdles/Relays. She is an International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) certified Strength Coach.  Injury-prevention and performance optimization training are from Muscle Activation Technique MAT-Jump Start Certificate, Reflexive Performance Reset-Level 1, Be Activated-Level 1.  She willingly sits in a room of muscular men annually as part of the Track Football Consortium Education Series, (2018-2022).  She is a lifetime member of the American Swim Coach Association and regularly attends US Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA) and IL Track & Cross Country Coaches Association (ITCCCA) training.

 

Shaylinn Aver Cross Country, Assistant Coach

It all started when a friend convinced me to join the junior high cross country team and ever since, I have continued to run. I competed for  Hinsdale South high school, helping the team get to regionals, sectionals and All-Conference. After high school I was unsure about what the future looked like for running while pursuing a diagnostic imaging radiology degree offered only at the community college or top tier schools. I decided to join the team at College of DuPage and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. As a freshman,  I competed at Albuquerque, New Mexico  in the D1 NJCAA nationals for cross country and placed 6th for regionals. Track season was cut short due to COVID but the training didn’t stop and I  continued to get stronger. Sophomore year, I was Athlete of the Week by the U.S Track and Field Coaches Association. I competed at D3 NJCAA nationals winning the 1500m, 4 x 800 relay, 4 x 400 relay and placing 2nd in the 800 meter. I continued to train and placed 3rd overall for my age group at the Fit America Half Marathon.   I continue to run and look forward to helping others achieve their goals.

 

Roy Llewellyn Mid + Distance, Assistant Coach

Coach Roy began his running career with the Chicago Flyers, shortly afterwards seeing the rewards in local 5ks, winning his age group.  He enjoyed Track and Cross Country, especially competing at the Cross Country Coaches National Youth Championship several times.  Currently, Roy is entering his Junior Year at Downers Grove North.  Roy's freshman year he was part of the IHSA State Team and in 2019, he competed downstate at the IHSA XC Championship meet!

Allayna Gagnard Sprints, Assistant Coach

Allayna began her athletic career with a Chicago Kids Triathlon.  Although a foot shorter than her counterparts, she placed third in her age group and won a spot on a Chicago Fire Truck in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  She cried the entire time as her family frantically raced around the parade route, waving and trying to reassure her that this was fun. Since her only run prior to the triathlon was in a microburst in Chicago, she was fairly reluctant to run, however, she developed her passion after joining her grade school team in 3rd grade.  Allayna's career highlights included winning the Loyola Lakefront Invite x 2, HInsdale Rotary Run 3k (so far fastest girls' time-did she miss a corner?), AAU State Championship 800M, and with her CHMS teammates, had the 4 x 400 record.  She once took a very cool hurdler picture as her idol was Lolo Jones.  Speaking of Idol, she tried out for American Idol too.  Allayna concluded her running career at St. Ignatius College Prep after running Varsity XC her freshman year, to focus on Comparative World Politics by Diane Haleas and Philosophy by Dr. Gholson.  She is returning to coach because she really loves it and needs a break from her  new sport Architecture, in her senior year at the U of I.

Gillian Gagnard CMO, Head Coach
Since 2009, Coach Gillian has loved spending time with the kids as a Flyers coach. She is excited to be coming back this summer because watching the athletes progress is both rewarding and fun. The Flyers has become a second home for her, seeing as she’s grown up going to races, being dragged through forest preserves for hours setting hashes, and attending practices.
 
She is a third year at the University of Chicago majoring in Economics with a minor in Molecular Engineering. Her freshman and sophomore year, she made the Dean’s List.
 
While she never really picked up running, she did go another route. Coach Gillian is a member of the varsity swim team at the University of Chicago. She competes in the 100 & 200 backstroke as well as the 200 & 400 medley and freestyle relays. Her freshman year, she received 4 NCAA All-American and Scholar All-American honors and placed 9th in the 200 backstroke at NCAAs. This past year, as a sophomore, she placed 6th in the 200 backstroke at NCAAs and received 3 All-American honors. She is also a member of the school’s current record-holding 400 medley relay. Having swam for nearly 10 years now, she channels her experience into coaching through strength and conditioning, attention to detail, and attitude.
Lana Zenner Assistant Coach and Meet Coordinator

Lana's athletic career, many moons ago, included competitive swimming and track.  Lana placed 2nd in the mile  at the IL middle school championship and had her picture in the paper as she dove off of the blocks for her winning medley relay team.  She is an arduous supporter of the Chicago Flyers and looks forward to assisting with practice.
 

Kate Haffner Cross Country, Assistant Coach
Jackson Siegel Mid + Distance, Assistant Coach

Jackson Siegel started with the Chicago Flyers as a 10 year old who had never run a competitive race.  In the time since then, the fun that he had, friends he made, as well as the support, encouragement and technical training by the coaches has instilled a deep love of the sport.  He participated in both Cross Country and Track Seasons as a Flyer, and transitioned smoothly into Cross Country at Park Jr. High.  At Lyons Township High School, he was a four-year member of both the Cross Country and Track teams, an All-Conference Athlete, and member of the State Qualifying Varsity team in 2019.  He is excited to give back some of what he received from participating in Flyers to a new crop of athletes.

Jackson is a sophomore at Purdue in Engineering.

 

 

Kelsey Casella Mid + Distance, Assistant Coach

Kelsey began her running career in 2nd grade with Chicago Flyers, and her love for the sport began. She ran cross country and track with the team competing in regional and national events. Kelsey loved the competitiveness but also team unity that Chicago Flyers provided. She then transitioned to running in middle school where she was successful and helped her team win two conference titles. Kelsey holds two middle school planking records and credits Chicago Flyers’ conditioning for that success. She is currently a varsity runner at Downers Grove South High School and was on the State cross country teams that placed 3rd in 2018 and 5th in 2019. Kelsey is excited to coach and give back to the program that sparked her love for running.

Michael Farthing Curriculum Advisor

Advisor to the Team

Coach Farthing has been coaching cross country and track for 14 years. As the assistant coach at Downers Grove South, his cross country girls team has placed in the top 5 at the state meet for 4 seasons highlighted by a 3rd place finish in 2018.  In 2016, the girls track team finished in 5th place at the IHSA state met while setting new school records in the 4 x 100, 100 dash, 100 hurdles and 200 dash.  This year, the boys track team hopes to continue the top 5 ranking from the 2020 season prior to the season’s cancellation.

Prior to DGS, Coach Farthing served as Head Coach and Assistant at Westmont High School.  In 2015, Westmont placed 6th at the IHSA state 1A track meet.  Most notably, Farthing coached Annie Carlson to 9 state medals over the course of her high school tenure in 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump, triple jump and 200 dash.

Coach Farthing’s credentials apply to all ages and sports.  He has served as the speed coach for Downers Grove South football, as a sprint coach for the Chicago Flyers Track Club for three years, as cross country coach for  three years at the Westmont Junior High  school and as a speed coach for youth baseball.  Coach Farthing is a special education teacher at  Westmont High School.  He is a certified USATF Level 1 and Reflexive Performance Reset  (RPR) Level 1. Outside of coaching, Coach Farthing is a blog contributor for Simplifaster which is a company who specializes in sport performance technology.

 

Colin Yandel Head Coach, Distance
Coach Colin began running with the Flyers after his first season of Middle School Cross County, and was also active with swimming and soccer. Of those activities, running started to click and the Flyers provided a great opportunity to learn more about the sport. Colin participated in local, regional, and national events for both cross country and track but more importantly, developed into a strong leader and became an assistant coach for the Junior Flyers.
 
In high school, Colin continued to develop during his four years, often returning to the Flyers to help out. Colin ended his high school country career with an all-state performance, helping his team to a fourth place finish.
 
Colin is now running for the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois. In his freshman year, he set personal bests of 25:11 for 8K at the Big Ten Championships and 32:23 for 10K at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
 
Colin’s philosophy on running? “Running is not necessarily easy but can be fun. Putting in the effort and seeing the results is very rewarding. I started out thinking that running was an individual sport, but came to learn that team matters. I’ve gained life-long friends from this sport based on our mutual understanding of what it takes to succeed."