Running has been my compass for navigating life and providing direction for the many paths that I have taken. Although I haven’t always been entirely certain about why the arrow was pointing me in a particular direction, I have trusted my instincts and followed it all the same.
I guess I’d consider my decision to move to Flagstaff in the spring of 2014 to be experimental at best. I was at a crossroads. My professional running contract with Adidas-Rogue Athletic Club had not been renewed, but I was reasonably happy with the way everything else was going with my life in Austin, Texas.
“Maybe I should just take this as a sign and give it up now,” I thought.
While this might have been the more logical, sensible and secure thing to do, anyone who really knows me understands why I ended up in Flagstaff.
The mountains were calling, so I decided to go.
I came to Flagstaff with stars in my eyes, like a budding Nashville musician who packs everything he owns into a car fueled on hopes and dreams. I’d been told that Flagstaff was the place to be for a competitive distance runner in training.
But what exactly was I pursuing? What was my purpose in being here?
A coveted spot on the starting line of the 3000-meter steeplechase final at the Olympic Trials? A fat contract with a major shoe company so that I could finally feel like I had “made it” as a runner?
As it turned out, what I was truly seeking all along was revealed to me at a place called “Coco.”
My three-year stint of working and coaching at Coconino High School has been filled with growth, meaning, fulfillment and joy. As the cross country and track coach, I witnessed the power of sport as a unifying force, bringing together a diverse group of students and their families in the pursuit of a common goal.
Through my work as a Transition Mentor with the CHS Transition from School to Work Program, my eyes were opened to the unique challenges our youth with special needs face on a daily basis. These coaching and mentoring experiences have been my constant source of motivation and inspiration to remind me that we can always make more of an effort to promote a culture of engagement, participation, inclusion and acceptance in our community.
While I will sincerely miss my Coco family, I find comfort in knowing that the relationships and memories will stay with me for rest of my life. To the students, families, staff and administration at Coconino High School: Thank you for being my True North.