Mrs. Duffy is a well respected teacher and coach at Hanover Central High School. She teaches English, Speech, and does yearbook for the school. While doing all of that, she even coaches cross country. I was able to reach out to her and ask her about her career in running and coaching cross country.
What made you want to coach cross country?
Cross country has always been very important to me. In high school, it gave me some of the greatest moments and memories of my life. It’s a sport that very few choose to do, and we’re a closer family because of that. I coach cross country because it might not be a “glory” sport and we might not sell out stadiums or gyms, but I guarantee there is no greater fanfare or underdog story than what you will find on a cross country course. No other sport will cheer on the guy who comes in last. In cross country, they do. There’s something very special about this sport, and only those who participate in it can understand its allure.
How long have you been coaching cross country?
I have been coaching cross country for fifteen years. When I taught at Munster High School, I was the head coach there for eight seasons, and I have been Coach Foulds’s assistant here at Hanover for seven years.
Did you run when you were younger?
Yes, I ran AAU when I was younger, and then I continued running in middle school and high school for Mr. Whitacre and Mr. Foulds, respectively.
Did you always plan on becoming a coach?
When I decided that I wanted to become a teacher, I knew that coaching would be a part of my career path as well, yes.
What techniques do you use to push your players?
I try to be as encouraging as possible, but I’m also very honest. They know that I know all of their shortcuts because, truth be told, I probably tried many of them. In the end, I just try to explain that their effort will determine their success. We can give them workouts, but they have to put in the work.
In what ways do you approach your players in order to communicate with them during practice?
While they’re doing their workouts, I will address their form and split times, encouraging them to maximize their efforts in every practice.
How do you approach your players after they lose or have a bad race?
Bad races happen. Bad games happen. If they eat the wrong meal before a race, their entire race could be affected. If they have a cold, their breathing could be off. Coach Foulds and I expect bad races to occur occasionally, but when they become consistent or when there is a noticeable drop in time, we address how they’ve practiced throughout the week and how they mentally prepared for the race. Cross country is 100% a sport where “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” If our runners haven’t been putting in the work, their race will showcase that. At the end of the day, we can’t run the race for them, so we learn from the loss, move on, and hope for more focus and greater effort the next time around.
Do you keep in contact with your players during the offseason?
I see most of my runners throughout the offseason in the hallways, so we’ll catch up there. I no longer coach track at the high school level, but when I did, that was a time to oversee their progress and ability.