X-Country coach’s enthusiasm contagious

Dana Stetson


For the last two years, my daughter Danice has been involved in middle school cross country. In that time, I have met many of the coaches and volunteers that run these meets. The enthusiasm of these young runners is certainly contagious. The coaches all have at least one thing in common: they are positive people.

The coach I have seen in action the most is Donna Whitworth, the coach for Cobb Middle School. Because she runs and races herself, as do many of the coaches, she has a special ability to pass her love of the sport on to her runners. Since these runners are new to the sport, she must teach them virtually everything from the warm-up to remembering to run through the finish line. This must all be done in a very short season.

In the typical practice session that I had the opportunity to observe there were warm-ups followed by a two mile run. Next came hill and speed drills. All during these drills, Ms. Whitworth was observing her team and answering all kinds of questions, while dispensing some practical advice “don’t run the day before the meet and please drink enough water.”

Her main goal is to show her runners that they can have fun while working hard toward a team goal. I listened to her talk to her team before the county meet. She told them to stay calm, run hard, and do the best they could. She cheered them on as they finished and had something positive to say to each of them. I think these runners have a good coach and a great role model in Ms. Whitworth and I’m sure this crop of runners will certainly be better for all of this positive attention.

Other middle school coaches worthy of note are Judy and Brian Corbin, Steve Barraco, Chuck Davis, Gary Droze, Susan Cornwell and Mike Schneider. Other volunteers are Ray Hanlon, Bill McGuire, David Yon, Jeanne O’kon andTom Perkins. These folks all give generously of their time for the benefit of children’s running. The kids from Deerlake, NFC, Holy Comforter, RAA and Maclay could all be seen showing their newly found talents at the City XC meet at Maclay School on Saturday morning.