When I was in 7th grade at Bates Elementary School in Courtland, my school hosted the Walnut Grove Rotary Invitational track meet. It was part of our PE class and the 8th grade Math class “burned” the “track” into the large grass field.
I ran the mile – and it changed my life. I didn’t train for it. I wasn’t coached. I don’t think I ran particularly well. But that day set a new course for my life, a course
I never knew existed.
Unbeknownst to me, Chuck Bruns, a new English teacher and passionate track coach at Delta High School attended the meet. He came up to my brother and I after our races and said, when you guys get to Delta, we’re starting a Cross Country Team!
My answer: “What is Cross Country?”
Growing up in the Delta in the 80’s and 90’s, your sport options were Football, Baseball, Basketball and Soccer. I had never heard of distance running as a sport all to itself. Sure enough, when we got Delta High, Coach Bruns helped us pull together a Cross Country team. By the time we reached our Junior year, with little more than 5 people on the team, we won the Section title and a trophy in the school hallway.
My senior year, with Collegiate hopes, they cut the program.
BUT, the course had already been set. I walked on to the Fresno State Cross Country Team as a freshman and my second semester I earned a scholarship. I loved being a part of a team of runners. I loved challenging myself and testing my limits. I have deep friendships today that came from those distance running crews.
Because Coach Bruns walked up to a 12 year old, and two years later started a team, I got the bug. It gave me confidence in myself, life-long friendships, trained me in leadership, and paid for my college education.
I am coaching with Delta Hawks Racing to give the next generation of you the same opportunity that Coach Bruns gave me. I want to make sure that our kids have the foundation of running by the time they reach high school, we have the depth in the community to field a team, and to change the course of many of our youth in the Delta.
30 years ago this spring I took my first step. Well not exactly, but it was my first step as a competitive runner.
Our motivations to start may come from very different places. For me, my best friend was an amazing runner, he ran track and cross country and I figured if I joined the team he and I could hang out more. Little did I know my first step would lead me to learn so much.
Sure, running has its obvious benefits; better health, strength, endurance, etc. But what does it really provide? Here are some things that stand out over the last 30 years.
The list goes on and on....I hope you take from this that with one simple step into the running community you are joining a community that will impact your life in meaningful ways and will be there for you for life. By the way - my best friend and I celebrate 40 years of friendship this year and we spend most of our time running, mountain biking and being in nature with our families.