Teachey 1Loren TeacheyMs. TilleryAP Literature19 April 2012 Senior Project Speech A gunshot, loud cheers, and the stampeding footsteps of hundreds of people echo in yourears. This is the sound and spirit of cross country. The start of a race is a moment unforgettableto all who bear witness. Hi, my name is Loren Teachey, and I know this experience all too well. Iam currently a varsity runner for our schools track team, and was the top male runner for ourschools cross country team. Outside of running, I have worked hard to achieve in high leveledclasses, and will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall. For my senior project, I choseto give back to the sport I have loved since I started competing in the eighth grade. My goal wasto create, coach and manage a youth cross country team focused on competing and promoting achallenging and rewarding sport. For my research paper, I chose to write about the evolution of running. While at first thismay seem unrelated to coaching, a closer look reveals that the two topics are highlyinterconnected. Understanding the basic principles of how humans run, why our bodies are set upthe way they are, and the history of human long distance running can give a coach an entirelydifferent perspective on the methods he or she uses. For example, the human foot is designed tostrike the ground at mid-foot, not on the heel. This is the most natural and efficient landing area,allowing the best possible stride with the least amount of injury risk. However, humansdeveloped cushioned running shoes, starting with Nikes development in the early 70s, which ledto increased heel striking. In cross country, heel striking puts runners at a disadvantage. Courses
Teachey 2typically twist and turn, have many hills, often carry obstacles, and create a running experiencethat is more similar to primitive running. Naturally, the heel-striking stride is unable to bemaintained, and the results range from slower times to devastating injury. As a coach, I can teachrunners how not to heel strike by using various barefoot drills, form drills, and by promotingproper footwear that encourages a mid-foot strike. All in all, my research was highly beneficialin teaching my runners how to better their form to improve. For my product, I chose to create, coach and manage a youth cross country team thatwould participate in the USATF (USA Track and Field Association) Junior Olympics CrossCountry circuit of meets. To me, this was a sort of culmination of my career as a youth runner. Igot started with my career in the fifth grade by participating on the Sequoyah Youth Track team,and I have been competing ever since. In my freshman year, I started to volunteer coach forCreekview Youth Track, mainly helping out with young distance runners. This fall, I wanted tomake an impact of my own, in order to give back to the sport which I had loved most since thefifth grade. However, I did not have the time to wait until spring for track to roll around, and Ifelt that our program could further expand by adding cross country to its list of events. I startedrunning cross country as an eighth grader, and participated in Junior Varsity races with the highschool team. By high school, I had grown to love the sport, even more than track, and hadbecome a scoring member of the varsity squad in just my freshman year. Now, in my senior year,as the schools top cross country runner, I wanted to give back to my sport. Early this fall, I contacted Mike McCord, the head of Creekview Youth Track. I haveknown Mike since I was young, and had been working with him since the spring of my freshmanyear when I started volunteering. We got together to talk about what it would take to start a teamthis fall. The team would use infrastructure from the track team, operate through USATF and
Teachey 3would be focused on running cheaply and self sufficiently. The important aspect, as Mike said,was for me to not only work on my coaching, but to learn the management part of the deal aswell. This involved creating the registration forms, helping set up dues, and making sure eachrunner was a registered USATF member. In the end, this all went much smoother than I initiallythought it would, and thanks to Mikes help, I was able to focus more on the coaching and thekids. Coaching itself was a different ball game than what I was used to. I was dealing with kidsfrom the ages of 7 to 12, when I usually had 11 to 14 year olds. The idea was to train them in away that was both fun and beneficial, while gradually moving into the ideas that I had foundfrom my research. Practices would be held generally on Mondays and Thursdays, weatherpermitting, and we would use a variety of training locations including the track, grass and trails.One of my first goals was to get runners used to the concept of running for more than a mile ortwo, as this was necessary to succeed in the sport. This required much more motivation than Ihad thought, as I quickly realized that the kids were, well, kids, and not me, who enjoys runs of90 minutes or longer. I also had to deal with keeping an eye out for everyone while on the trails.This was not track, where everyone is enclosed in an area where visibility is high. My secondgoal was to introduce real workouts, similar to the ones that I did in high school cross country,only shorter. By the end of the season, the athletes had delved into interval training, hill repeats,fartlek workouts, and longer runs. I was very pleased to see how well they coped with the higherintensity. The assistance of Mike and a few parents was greatly appreciated. They were vital inencouragement and helping with keeping track of times. With these efforts, the natural runningtechniques I had studied could now be used to full effect. The end result was fabulous, with noinjured runners, and two USATF Nationals qualifiers. At the end of the season, I reflected uponnot just highs, but some of the problems that I had encountered. As previously mentioned, I had
Teachey 4to adjust to the abilities of the kids and not expect the kind of times and workouts I was used toin high school. I also had to learn that sometimes, it wasnt going to be a "push it" sort of day.The most important aspect of being a young athlete is to have fun while participating in the sport.Some days, you have to take it easy, or else kids get burned out, and no one has fun or competesto their best abilities. Looking back on my experiences, I believe the most important aspect that I learnedthroughout the process was to just have fun. I learned that, even though it was great to see twoathletes go to nationals, and to see everyone improve throughout the season, the best aspect wasthat everyone enjoyed what they were doing and that I was able to give to the sport I love. Mymain goal was to create a team that promote cross country running to youth athletes and made ita fun and engaging experience. To me, giving back became one of the ultimate rewards of mydedication. Along the way, I learned a lot of new ideas for coaching and I improved at workingwith children and the challenges that come along with it. After the project, I think that, while Ienjoyed the impact I made and the experiences gained, I do not think that I would coach full timein the future. I would love to coach part time, and preferably with older kids. In conclusion, I have enjoyed the senior project experience and have learned a lot aboutmy topic and myself along the way. I have never been the best at time management andscheduling, and this project really helped me to improve in these areas. I learned to work hardand tried to stay on top of the project as well as my schoolwork. Just like a race, the project hasbeen long, with many ups, downs, twists, turns and surprises. In order to finish the race, youhave to persevere and never stop pushing, just as I taught my athletes. Thank you for your timeand I hope youve enjoyed my presentation.