School: Lejeune High School
Sport: Boys’ track & field, cross country and winter track
• Boys’ track & field team has won five-straight regional titles
• Boys’ and girls’ cross country teams have won five-straight regional titles
• Has been the boys’ track & field coach for five years and cross country coach for six years
• Husband served in the U.S. Marine Corps, father was in the Navy and son is on an Navy ROTC scholarship
• Ran track & cross country in high school
Q: How have you been so successful at Lejeune High School?
A: The success of our teams comes down to the kids. They have such high expectations for themselves and each other. When we’re at practice, they push each other, and they have a low tolerance for anyone giving less than their full effort. We have times during practice when we can chat, laugh and relax but, when it is time to work, they all put on their game face.
Q: What are some of the things you try to teach your student-athletes?
A: One of the goals of the programs is to create lifetime runners. Running is one of the few activities that can be continued successfully after high school, into adulthood. I want to introduce these athletes to the running community and teach them that there is so much flexibility in the world of running depending on how competitive you want to be. It’s great that we continue to be champions, but it’s more important to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
We also spend a lot of time talking about foods for the same reason. A lot of time is spent discussing healthy food options, and the science behind why they are healthy.
Q: What has been your most memorable moment as a coach so far?
A: In general, any time a kid realizes he or she reached their goal for an event. The look on their face is the best part of coaching. Another example of amazing moments is the frequency with which we are complimented on our athletes’ sportsmanship. Our kids are great at cheering on members of other teams. They’re always encouraging everyone as part of that community of athletes. Coaches and parents notice that.
During the state championship meet, officials set out water coolers for the two-milers because it was so hot. I mentioned to the kids, who were all enjoying the shade, napping, playing cards, etc., that if they’d like to help, they could go down on the track to pass out water. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every member of the team who wasn’t immediately involved in a race went down to the track in the 90 degree heat, in the scorching sun for over an hour, to pass out water to runners in the four two-mile races. That was a proud moment.
Q: Who was your favorite mentor or coach growing up?
A: In high school I had two track coaches. One was Coach Neller. She was awesome. She always ran with us, which made an impression on me. She pushed us, but never made us feel bad for a poor performance. I try to live by that, because it was so important to me as an athlete.
Q: What is one of your favorite quotes?
A: I have always liked, “If you want a break, pick a sport with a bench” for cross country. I also like [Steve] Prefontaine’s: “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.”
Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t coaching?
A: During the summer, when I’m not at cross country practice, I like to travel around the country. I also like to go to the beach and sandbar hop in our little boat. Anything that involves sunshine and water. And I enjoy cooking, because I love to eat.
Q: What subject do you teach at LHS?
A: I teach Learning Strategies and Language Arts. I also provide inclusion services in Language Arts as well.
Q: If you weren’t coaching, what would be your dream job?
A: I’m in my dream job. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but I love working with students. When I’m coaching, I love seeing kids get a personal record. Similarly, when I’m teaching, I love seeing kids make connections they haven’t made before.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a coach at Lejeune High School?
A: It’s such a privilege to coach at Lejeune. The children of Marines are a special breed.
We tell our kids all the time, “Marines don’t make big kids”, so they’re always going to struggle with the events where size is a huge benefit, like the throwing events. Additionally, when we line up against some schools in the sprinting events, many of our athletes look like children next to grown men. But, what they lack in size, they more than make up in their determination.
These are some self-disciplined athletes which they definitely get from their parents. We can send the kids on a run, and they will push themselves and each other. Even when they are out of our sight, we know they will not slack, they will not walk, and they will push each other. That gives us a tremendous edge over their peers off base, for whom this may not be part of their school or team culture.
If you’d like to nominate someone for Coach’s Corner, please email Calvin Shomaker at email@example.com with the coach’s name, sport, school, accomplishments, military background and a few sentences about why you are nominating them.