I currently have been coaching Track at St. Marcus. I run 3 morning running sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6:45am – 7:30am and regular practice Tuesdays and Thursdays. As I have found to be the case after Cross Country season last fall that I start out with a large group and it whittles down to just a smaller more dedicated group of runners. This Thursday is the first meet. Next week there are 2 meets. There is a 4th meet the next week after that. I think this year St. Marcus will have some stand out runners for Track.
Through a connection at St. Marcus, I was recommended to be the Cross Country Coach at Hope High School (part of Hope Christian Schools…an independent WELS Lutheran school system…different in that it serves inner city kids and has no specific federation of churches supporting it. It is mostly supported with fundraising, vouchers, and grants. It originally started as a clone of the St. Marcus system when the principal of St. Marcus left to found the first Hope Christian School)
So this summer we will begin summer running and try to recruit, recruit, recruit. They have only had CC for two years now and the teams have languished from lack of a dedicated program and coaching. So currently I am working on the CC handbook and website. There will be some meetings in May to find out who is interested. I will also go to the two Hope Christian Grade Schools to talk to 8th graders and find some interest. Vouchers and Open Enrollment make things more interesting as that has so much more to do with where kids go to school than anything else. The incoming freshman class next year will be from all over and there may be a lot more late-arrival students showing up than I’d prefer in August. The more runners who work over the summer the better.
In any case, I have found 5 student leaders who are interested in helping make the program “run”. This should be an interesting year. As one student asked “where are we going to run for practice…because it’s pretty Ghetto around here and last year, Alissa (another student present) got beat up?” So there are just a few more things to think about in inner city Cross Country than in your typical school. Running routes free of gunfire and beatings are two of those things. However even though my own ability to run is constantly threatened by fragile tendons and worn out cartilage, the thing that attracts me to these schools for CC is that this sport is so under-represented from the inner city. But holy cow have I found so many students who are naturally great athletes and are born to run. They just need to be shown what they can do. Once they see the talent within themselves I see state level competitors all around me. Diamonds in the rough if you will. I’m pretty excited.
I plan to still coach the St. Marcus CC team because we have morning practices there and they wouldn't conflict much except potentially meets I would need another coach to get the gradeschoolers to the meets. However I was wondering if I could combine the two Hope grade Schools and the SM program to make one inner city CC team for the Lutheran Grade Schools. I call this a real feeder program. Perhaps that’s a pipe dream. I would need another coach and assistant and then to figure out how these three schools could practice as one…or run separate practices and combine as one at meets. Ahhh things to think about and discuss with people. It is clear that I need to buy myself a bus. I want a Partridge Family bus. OMG I would love to see the faces on the suburban Lutheran schools when a Partridge family bus shows up with a team called the Ghetto Runners or something similar.