A Letter from Coach Green, May 14, 2018
Dear Distance Runners and Families,
Thank you to all of you. As I was recently telling Principal Donaghy and AD Patterson, I am so grateful for the runners and runner-parents at Haverford. One of the realizations I’ve had in my first year coaching is that Haverford people are exceptional. I’ve felt so supported and appreciated. It’s wonderful. More than anything I’ve had smart, reliable, conscientious collaborators. Student-athletes and parents are eager to help, to communicate, to discuss problems and find answers together. That, in a nutshell, is the way we’re going to build a great program at Haverford. Long ago, in Accra, Ghana, where I was living and conducting field research, I learned about the West African concept of the ‘extended family’. Here there is a clear assumption that everyone helps, everyone lends a hand toward the health and happiness of the community. It’s automatic. A child has a problem and his parents aren’t around? Others rush in and act very much like parents, loving and attentive, making sure the child is okay. I’m grateful for the Haverford extended family.
One of the core concepts of the Haverford distance program is everyone matters. Membership in our community only requires two basic things: you need to show up, and you need to try. Anyone who does this is going to get the full support of the coaches, the captains, everyone. There are no exceptions.
The vast majority of our runners improved dramatically this year. We saw ten second PR’s, twenty second PR’s, we saw PR’s of over a minute. Generally you expect freshmen to make a big jump, and we saw plenty of that. We also saw seniors drop their times significantly. Once you start to run very fast times, it’s harder to make these ‘big jumps’ in improvement. Still, many of our fastest athletes have run spectacular PR’s this year (and as a handful move on to the District meet, they’re not done yet).
But not everyone runs a huge PR every year. I was just talking with a coaching friend (who I mention often) who had a male 800/1600 runner who has steadily improved each year and heading into his senior year was one of the top middle-distance runners in Oregon. Then, this year, things haven’t gone his way: illness, injury, more illness, with a good pinch of old-fashioned bad luck – races just haven’t played out well.
This happens. It’s the hardest part of the sport. The good news is, and I’ve seen this countless times; no one stays in the rut. You emerge from it. You break out, you have that incredible race during which you finally pop the big PR and all is happy again. Obviously this kind of pattern has many parallels in life. Keep working hard. Keep learning. Keep doing the right things. Even if things look dark, if you stick with it, the sun always comes out. Distance running can help us stay tough, stay focused, keep at it – in every part of our lives. As the parents out there know – life requires a particular kind of endurance!
Soon our focus will switch to XC. For now, we’re entering the longest and most luxurious break of the year. Take time off. Don’t run! Relax, have fun, focus on other endeavors (family, school, friendship, the NBA!), take a mental and physical vacation from your running life. You all deserve it, and it’s essential to our long-term success. As always I’m happy to answer questions, address issues, and hear your suggestions. You know where to find me.
And to the graduating seniors and your families, I wish you every happiness and success. I’m grateful to have known you. Thank you for working hard, and making me laugh, and patiently guiding the new coach along. I absolutely could not have done it without you.