Thursday, August 5, 2010

You? A cross-country coach? Why not?

Do you get a lot out of running? Would you like to give something back?

Here's an opportunity: Cross-Country for Youth is beginning its fourth season in an after-school running program designed to combat childhood obesity and promote character-building among middle- and elementary-school students.

What does this have to do with you, and with "giving back"? Well, the program needs volunteers willing to provide support and encouragement to young runners who are trying to reach their goals.

More than 250 students participate in the 10-week program run by Reggie McAfee, the first African-American to break the four-minute mile barrier. In addition to local practices, which will be held on Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 5:30 p.m., kids will be competing in a series of cross-country meets. The program begins Sept. 13.

The volunteer opportunities are as follows:

COACHES NEEDED: Time commitment is two hours a week over the 10-week period. All materials and training will be provided, and it's OK to buddy up and coach with a friend.

"CHARACTER PRESENTERS" NEEDED: Time commitment is one hour -- 30 minutes on a Monday and 30 minutes on the following Wednesday. You choose the week. All materials will be provided, and the "character messages" -- or, "lessons" -- have already been created (so significant planning is not necessary).

For details on Cross-Country for Youth, click here. Or you can contact McAfee via e-mail ( or phone (704-634-4688). There's also a volunteer informational meeting for prospective running coaches scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12, at the Coca-Cola Company in SouthPark (4100 Coca-Cola Plaza, near the intersection with Morrison Boulevard).