Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why I Coach

On Monday, one of our high school track/cross country team members became a runner.  Or at least we discovered he is a runner now.  Monday is long run day for us.  A runner, Tim, was told to run 35 minutes.  I got started on my run a little later than most of the kids and I was running 75 minutes.  As I was nearing the school I passed Tim, still out running.  I went to the weight room and confirmed with Coach Mitchell that Tim was told to run 35 minutes.  He had done longer long run days, but had been sick at the end of last week.  When Tim came into the weight room, we asked how long he had run.  He said 80 minutes, with a grin.  In general, we would prefer the kids do what we tell them.  In fact, Tim has only been told to run 65 or maybe 70 once.  But he has probably heard Coach tell Jacob, a junior, to run 80 minutes.  Jacob is the only kid on the team who would have been told to run that much.  It made Coach and I both realize, two things.  One, Tim is listening more than we might think.  Second and most importantly, Tim ran 80 minutes for himself.  He didn't run that because he was told to but because he chose to.  Tim identifies himself as a runner.  Tim runs for himself, it's one of the things that describes Tim.

A little background info for most you.  Tim is a high school freshman who started running with us over the summer.  He stood by himself and basically never spoke, even if spoken to.  Coach asked him during the summer if he came because he wanted to or because his mother kept bring him back.  Tim's answer, because his mother brought him every Tuesday and Thursday evening.  But I know that is not his answer now.  After cross country, I ran a 5K with him because I knew there was more there.  He ran 23:40, about a two minute PR.  Tim will never be a state champion, conference champion, or probably the winner of a single race.  But winning is not required to be a runner.  Being a runner is rather hard to define.  The simple definition is putting one foot in front of the other with a flight or airborne phase in between the steps.  Though, I don't think that defines being a runner.  I could try to define it, but why.  If you're a runner, you just know what being a runner is about.  And now, I see a runner in Tim.  Seeing him change and open up is really more rewarding than any state champions I have coached or will coach.  Seeing kids discover that they can do more than they thought they could is a reward unto itself.  Tim may not always run, but I hope and believe he has learned some lessons about himself that will carry beyond running.  That is why I coach.

So that I don't sound too philosophical and...  nice.  I'll tell you that many of the kids would say I'm mean and maybe a jerk.  I think they just don't get it yet.  One of my favorite quotes from this fall will probably fit well here.  It was on a run with Cory, a 20 year old, former runner from our high school.  Talking about running, coaching, and various kids through the years, he said some of his friends ask why he hangs out with me.  Then Cory looked at me and with a straight face said, "I like being around you more than most people do."  

1 comment:

  1. I LOVED you coaching me! You were my favorite coach during my entire time vaulting!

    Glad to see things are going so well for you! Congrats on the sponsorship...I'll be keeping up with the blog ;-)