Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?
Being a small division III team in a sport that is somewhat obscure we look for anyone who wants to work hard, have fun, and run. Running can be a very lonely sport so having a large team helps make it fun. As a coach I feel it’s my job to get the team as good as they want to be, it’s the athletes job to determine what exactly their purpose is. Are they here to win? To run personal records? Or to just be a part of something? I love the sport and I’m happy to work with runners on any level, so I’m looking for runners that no matter how much talent they have, are dedicated to the sport.
Could you give us an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?
In a sport like running natural ability will get you only so far. After that having trust in your coaches plan and working hard to reach your goals will get you the rest of the way. I have LOTS of stories of runners that exceeded my expectations.
Some of my proudest moments of coaching is watching the development of mid pack runners. I’ve seen my fair share of runners that other schools wouldn’t even think twice about cutting turn into top 5 runners.
Two of the biggest growths came this past season. On the women’s side Beth turned from a good runner to a very good runner. She dedicated much more time to running over the summer, did not miss a day of training even when the weather was bad, she was sick, or run down from class work. She remained extremely focused not just on running but on all aspects of improving (strengthening exercises, recovery, nutrition, sleep, etc.). All her hard work paid off in a huge way. Beth set a school record in the 6k, won the conference meet, and qualified for nationals.
The other was on the Men’s side. One of the hardest transitions for an athlete to make in any sport is Men’s Cross Country. All other sports you are expected to do the same thing you’ve done in high school, the field is the same size, the hoop is the same height, and the transition is much easier. For Men’s Cross Country they go from running a 5k to 8k, this is a huge difference and takes a lot of time and work to adapt. This year we had a Sophomore Eric LiPuma go from being a good runner (top 3 on the team) to setting school records and running huge Personal Records. Again like Beth, Eric is extremely dedicated to the workouts and routines I lay out for the team. This past season alone Eric ran 5 of the 13 best races ever run by a Marywood Cross Country Member including the top 3. Eric also improved his conference finish from 10th to 4th and his regional finish from 176th to the best finish by a Marywood Runner ever, 55th.
What’s great about both Eric and Beth’s stories is that not only did they both have great seasons they both led Marywood to their most successful Cross Country seasons in school history. The rest of the team feeds off their achievements.