The Coaches Who Shaped Me

I didn't receive any memorable training tips as a young runner, run lots of mileage, or, even do workouts for that matter. Since I started our cross country team and knew little about what cross country was, I definitely didn't produce extremely fast times that would get me recruited to a Division I college. I can tell you, though, that my running has continued and grown because of my coaches. I still remember, as a sixth grader, my track coach told me if I worked hard enough, I could earn a scholarship to college. Suzanne was the same woman that decided to coach my cross country team three years later despite having basketball coaching commitments; I'm sure coaching a tiny cross country team wasn't what she thought she'd say "yes" to. But, she said "yes" to being on my team, to pouring into me as a young athlete.  To this day, I attribute my success to her belief in me. 

I had a few different coaches in high school, one of them being Scott Sorgea. While he had little knowledge about the sport of running, he had a dream and vision for our team and worked hard to learn all he could. Scott agreed to let me train with a bigger high school near my home and when it came time to apply for colleges, he made me write to all of the schools I was interested in with a letter, picture, times, etc. What I thought was a silly and embarrassing idea actually got me highly recruited by those schools. Scott didn't know much about running, but he knew a lot about recruitment, and even more, he believed in me. To this day, he's still in my corner.

Scott Abbott. While he might laugh that I mention him, his belief in me from high school until a professional and now, has been a big part of my continued running success. He helped get me into invitationals as a young high school runner, as well as encourage me to pick APU as my school instead of Sac State. (Most college coaches don't help you pick another school, but most college coaches aren't Scott).  He was the coach at Sac State at the time and now, the Executive Director of Sacramento Running Association. He has been in my corner and a sounding board since, from choosing a college to my professional team.

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My college coach, Preston Grey, recruited me at the Division 5 State Championships my senior year. Azusa Pacific University wasn't on the top of my list, but I had the goals of attending a Christian university that was still competitive and that happened to be APU. I can honestly say that I wouldn't be the athlete I am today without the coaching of Preston who helped shape me as an athlete and lead a successful team. He was the first coach I had with running knowledge and he pushed me to become my best. If I can be even close to the kind of coach Preston was to me, I would be proud.

When I took a leap and moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA, to join ASICS Mammoth Track Club, it was really because I chose Andrew Kastor to coach me. Andrew helped shape me into the marathoner I am now. From encouragement to belief to dedication, his coaching helped me qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials and really helped start my career as a professional and marathoner. Andrew is selfless with his time and coaching and his deep commitment to excellence pushed me to do the same.

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Fast forward almost 14 years since I started running and I'm currently coached by Irv Ray, my husband's college coach and former coach of UC Riverside. It's a bit of a coaching combo of my husband, Coach Ray, and myself for my training and what has/hasn't worked over the years. Coach Ray, more than anything, has prayed for and encouraged Seth and I as young married athletes. He's helped me in my transition from a full time professional runner to a working professional runner. He's also been incredibly patient. Coaches need to be patient, because, sometimes athletes (i.e. me) go through rough patches. You need a coach to pick you up and tell you how much they believe in you. 

Seth and I hope and pray that we can be the kind of coaches that we have had in the past. Coaches have been incredibly influential in our lives and have helped shape who we are. Really, we want to coach because coaches have helped shape us. We hope, in a small way, to do the same.

-Lauren