Hefley: Running, coaching must be in my blood

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Mention cross country, and someone invariably groans and wonders aloud why on earth anyone would want run that far for no good reason.

How, then, does a coach motivate his runners to ignore such attitudes and better their long distance times? What are cross country runners’ motivations?

Earl Hefley, who has motivated Trinity runners to two state championships and two second-place finishes in the last six years, has apparently found the key.

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&uot;It’s the psychological knowledge that you’ve run a distance you normally wouldn’t run,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s the challenge of doing something other kids aren’t willing to do.&uot;

There is also the legendary &uot;runner’s high,&uot; the adrenaline rush and the competition, he said.

&uot;It’s being a part of a team, and pulling their own load,&uot; he said. &uot;It gives them a sense of accomplishment.&uot;

And don’t forget the health benefits of running. &uot;A lot of kids run cross country to stay in shape for track,&uot; Hefley said.

With no problem motivating his runners, Hefley finds that his runners motivate him to coach, he said.

&uot;It gets in you blood,&uot; he said. &uot;Working with kids makes you feel like a kid again.&uot;

Coaching provides an opportunity to pass on Hefley’s love of running and his knowledge of the sport, he said.

&uot;I like passing on knowledge, especially about running — something I know a little bit about,&uot; he said. &uot;I want to instill things in them that they will hopefully pass on to their kids,&uot; he said.

That is exactly what Hefley has done with his two sons, David and Rob.

David, now 23, won a state title in the 800-meter event for Trinity, and was an All-State cross country runner in 1993 and 1994. David also ran cross country at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Rob, now a senior at Trinity, is one of the team’s top runners.

There are difficulties coaching your own sons, Hefley said. &uot;It’s hard because you expect more out of them,&uot; he said.

But there are also rewards, he added.

&uot;In some ways it’s easier because they know I expect more from them, and they rise to that challenge,&uot; he said. &uot;They both work with the other boys and help me.&uot;

&uot;With this being Rob’s last year and all, I’m going to have to make a decision on if I’m going to coach again or not,&uot; Hefley said. &uot;But I probably will. Like I said, it’s in my blood.&uot;

Hefley has coached cross country at Trinity for seven years, and also helps as an assistant track coach.