Coaches Corner with Rod Ray

1/7/2022 / Posted by Staff

1. Give us a background of how you got into coaching XC and/or Track & Field. That is a round-a-bout story. I did not go into education when I went to college after high school. I started college as an engineering major, after 2 years I left college and went to work with my family building and running a feed mill. I was at the mill for 5 years. I coached as a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club during that time. I had been thinking about going back to college when my wife, who was a computer programmer, got a job offer in NWA so she took it and I went back to school. We moved late spring of 1986 so I worked the first summer we were there before school started back in fall. During this time I felt God was leading me into education (I had greatly enjoyed working with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club) so when fall came I enrolled and my major was Physical Education and with a few extra math/science classes to go along with the ones I had taken as an engineering student, I also certified to teach math/science. 2. What inspires you to continue coaching the sport? The success of students and athletes while they are in school and after they graduate. It is a great joy when you hear how so many former athletes attribute their success in life to learning work ethic and discipline while in athletics. 3. Give us a memory that has stuck with you through the years. My first CC season. We did not have CC at Van Buren when I got there. We moved into the largest classification my second year at VB. I was a volunteer coach in track with Coach Dennis Pendergrass, we competed well in the sprints and jumps but did not have many distance runners. We talked about me starting CC and since I was not coaching football in the fall it would be a good fit for me to start a CC program. Looking back makes me laugh, like most in small schools in the 70's I was a multi-sport guy and ran track but trained only during the season. I had to not only figure out how to train runners for CC but I had never even seen a CC race. Looking back, I am surprised we even found meets to go to and actually got entered into the state meet correctly, things were so different back then. 4. What differences have you seen in the program since you've been HC? Meet management for both CC and Track. The good old days were not so good when it came to accuracy in timing/measurement, equipment and facilities. The depth of quality competition, there has always been those exceptional athletes who would have great performances but you did not have the depth of quality performance you see now, I see it in both CC and Track but I think more so in CC. The competitiveness of girls distance running has also grown really fast since about the time we switched to 5k. 5. What's your take on the direction of High School XC and/or Track & Field in Arkansas? I believe we have made choices that have improved the sport. I may not have always agreed with all the changes that have been made but I see we are in a better place now than we ever have been. I am concerned with future numbers in our sport as I see more and more young people who say they want to be good at something but as the level of commitment for them to be competitive goes up they decide that there are easier things to pursue. I guess you could say that work ethic has declined for a larger percent than there used to be. Championships In XC we won a girls State Championship in 2010 and a Boys State Runnerup in 2006. In track we have never won a team title but we have had a lot of individual state champions. 23 individual state champions and 7 meet of champs winners.

Thank You to Our Sponsors