Syracuse Online


Dr. J. on Running


Cross Country Coach

Published October 16, 2000 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

WANTED: Cross-country coach for local high school. Must have a degree in physical education, state teacher certification, and training as a medical emergency technician. Must have experience in babysitting, coaching individual and team sports for boys and girls, marriage and child counseling. Must be a motivational speaker, a good listener and an accomplished runner.

Must hold a clean driving record and no criminal background. Must be happily married and have two children, two cats, one dog and a mini-van. Must pass a test for illegal substance abuse. Must attend church, or a similar mainstream house of worship, every week. Experience singing in the choir preferred, but not required - will acquire skill on long van rides to meets.

Since this is a part-time position without any benefits, applicants must also hold a full-time job somewhere else, preferably another school, that allows them to leave work at 3pm, arrive to our school at 3pm, and be prepared to start practice promptly at 3pm.

The successful candidate starts this afternoon at 3pm. He will coach the cross country boys modified team, girls modified team, boys junior varsity team, girls junior varsity team, boys varsity team and girls varsity team. He will hold practice every weekday afternoon from 3pm to 5pm, and be available to meet with parents before, during or after practice.

Every Wednesday afternoon and Saturday, the coach will squeeze the 38-member team and their baggage in a 15-seat van, and drive them across town or across state for a dual meet or an invitational. On the way there, he must endure the eardrum-bursting vulgarity and obscenity that our youths call music, and the compulsory bickering and whining. He must respond to the word "coach" every tenth-of-a-mile, and pay attention to the road.

At the meet, he must erect the team tent, attend the coaches meeting, submit team rosters, jog the course with the team, wrap their flats with duct tape, inflate their egos, alleviate their fears and help with their homework. He must remind them to remove their jewelry, dress warmly, drink liberally, and save the donut until after the race.

He must get them to the start line on time, act civil to the parents, start a stopwatch at the gun, get to the 1-mile mark before them to yell splits, then run to finish to get everybody's time to the nearest millisecond. He must collect the finish cards, turn in the results, celebrate with the fast, console the slow, mend the wounded, then repeat the process five times over.

On the ride home, he must enjoy the fermenting aroma of sweat and mud, stop for dinner, loan money to the absent-minded, and get everyone back safely. Then, he must clean the van, fill the tank, park the van, and get home to his family.

Kamal Jabbour salutes all cross-country coaches. When do you guys find time to run? Jabbou's RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

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