Friday, August 31, 2012

coach of champions

the 2012 NCAC cross country championship course,
drawn by Coach Dennis Rice
The Wooster cross country team wouldn't be what it is without Coach Rice. He's been coaching for about 27 years and plans to continue for at least another 40. As a young buck in high school, Coach was already on track for greatness (and presumably people were already calling him "Coach" instead of Dennis). In college, Coach Rice was an All-American runner twice and awesome all the time. His last race was a marathon in which he broke both legs but still finished, he enjoyed a post-long run meal of a dozen Boston cream doughnuts and a two liter of RC Cola, and the front of his jersey was always clean. During his career at Wooster, Coach once restarted his own heart. His only fear is lightning.

He's also an expert at rousing team morale. In my four years at Wooster, Coach has basically been the reason I get up and run every day. An example, as told by Wooster alum Eliot Fackler:

  • Coach to the men's team, mid September 2003:

    We’re doing some faster stuff on Thursday. We wanna beat Allegheny. I’ve heard about the Gators all season. I’m sick of hearing about the Allegheny Gators. I can’t even read this book, Zac the Alligator, to my daughters anymore. In this story, there’s this little kid who gets a toy alligator from his uncle in Florida. You’re supposed to water this alligator and it gets bigger. So, the kid puts it in the shower and the alligator gets bigger and bigger. Then the alligator comes to life, and he’s this really cocky alligator who sings and dances and says, ‘look at me, I’m Zac the alligator.’ And he causes all kinds of trouble and the little kid gets blamed. Finally Zac the alligator goes out in the sun and dries out. He starts shrinking because he needs water, and that’s exactly what those slaps at Allegheny are going to do when they get to the pond at the bottom of the golf course at the conference meet. [continued]
     ·  · May 19, 2008 at 11:01pm

They’re going to start shrinking and they’ll jump in the pond because they need water. We’re going to beat the Gators. That’s what we’ve been preparing to do all season and we’re going to do it. We haven’t won a conference title since 1989. We’re gonna do it this year. Then we’re going to come back two weeks later and challenge the top teams in the region to go to the national meet.
Now, it’s a great day to run! It’s cold and rainy... true Cross Country weather. You have to go out there, face adversity, challenge it, and overcome it. Let’s go!

Today we have the first meet of the season - home course, 6:00. It's a 4k. It's going to be 90ยบ and 75% humidity. About which Coach said yesterday, "Well, we're going to go out conservative. We don't want to go out too fast tomorrow and be wiped out at the end. But we're going to run hard and be competitive. And when you put on that Wooster singlet, make sure you take pride in that. Because this is - without a doubt - the best cross country program in the country. And you all represent that program. It's going to be a beautiful day tomorrow - a nice warm day for a race."

So in the race today - even though it'll be blistering hot and I'm not in tip-top shape from my 8 months off of training - I'm going to go run as fast as I can at the moment, just because Coach told me to.

1 comment:

  1. Wow...I wish I had a coach like that! Let me know when he takes his coaching online...just the pep talks would be worth it.