In long run, coaches stay the course


Sometimes there's not enough time in the day for Phil Lang to get in a good run.

So Lang does the next best thing: He runs with the Oakland Mills cross country teams that he and his wife, Vicki, have coached since 1998.

"If we spend two hours a day with the team, we're hard-pressed to squeeze in another hour to run," said Phil Lang, who has two daughters to run after. "We're killing two birds with one stone."

While a few coaches can run an end route or demonstrate the perfect header, cross country is a sport in which many of the coaches are still participants.

Chad Boyle, the coach at Dulaney, estimates that about 50 percent of the coaches run five days a week.

The Bull Run Invitational at Hereford annually draws scores of coaches and college runners for the Reunion Run that serves as a halftime show for one of the season's biggest meets.

The motivations to run are many. Some coaches run with their teams as a way of staying in shape.

Some use the time to prepare for road races or marathons. Denny Snyder, who last season coached the North Carroll girls team, spent much of the fall training for the Baltimore Marathon.

For Boyle, who runs with his boys and girls squads about four times a week, the exertion hones his mental edge in the classroom as a archaeology, economics and government teacher at Dulaney.

"I get so much energy from running that it helps me to be awake and put that energy into my profession," said Boyle, who ran as a student at C. Milton Wright and UMBC. "It's a part of my life. I would be a different person if I didn't run every day."

Like Snyder, Phil Lang has competed in marathons -- the Boston Marathon in April was his 26th.

But Lang said he runs with his teams to let them know that they are not alone.

"One of the things we hope to say it says is, 'We're not going to ask you to do anything we can't do ourselves,' " said Lang, an Oakland Mills and Frostburg State graduate. "Plus, it keeps me young and gives me an opportunity to talk to the kids."

Mickey caught in Web

When C. Milton Wright coach Don Mickey isn't teaching physical education at Bel Air Middle School or taking care of his 1-year-old son or molding the boys and girls cross country teams at the Bel Air school, he can be found hunched over a computer.

That's because Mickey runs, a Web site devoted to high school cross country. Mickey started the site over the summer to fill the void left behind when was discontinued.

"Maryland needs something even if it's not as good as TrackFirst," he said. "It's a way for coaches to communicate, kids to communicate, and college recruiters to check us out."

The site will include results from major meets, a message board for visitors and rankings that will be determined by about 10 contributors.

Mickey said he hopes the site, which received 1,000 hits in its first month, will eventually draw 3,000 hits a month during the season.

Mickey said he'll be spending many nights and weekends on the site and will rely on fellow coaches such as Boyle and Lang for additional support.

"It could be the greatest thing we've ever done or the worst thing we've ever done," Mickey said. "We'll see."

Et cetera

Nicole Bernaix of Chesapeake-Anne Arundel and Lauren Warfield of South Carroll ran in two 5-kilometer cross country races in Australia as part of a sports/cultural exchange. Warfield finished 22nd in the first race and fifth in the second; Bernaix was 30th and seventh, respectively. ... Maryvale's Jim McCoach, coaching his 101st varsity season, plans to retire after the 2004 season.

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