Coach is back in the running

Hurley returns to familiar post as head of Coast Union’s cross-country team

Special to The CambrianSeptember 2, 2013 

The Coast Union cross-country program returns this year with math teacher Jim Hurley, left, and technology teacher Ayen Johnson serving as coaches.

JOHN FITZRANDOLPH — Special to The Cambrian

After being away from the cross-country program for several years, Coast Union math teacher Jim Hurley is back as coach for the 2013 fall season.

There is little doubt that Hurley knows how to coach cross-country, since he was the head cross-country coach at Coast from 1981 to 2007.

“I’ve always been a runner,” Hurley said. “I ran in high school and college, and I’ve been a runner for 40 years. It’s one of those sports that can be a lifelong sport.

“I still run into former Coast Union athletes I had when I coached and they’re still running, still jogging.”

Hurley said he didn’t particularly like football or the other team sports in high school: “Cross-country provides an avenue for those students who, like myself, don’t care for team sports but like the individual aspect of running.”

Joining Hurley on the cross-country staff is technology teacher Ayen Johnson, an avid runner who also serves as the Santa Lucia Middle School boys head basketball coach.

“One thing I really enjoy is running; I’ve been wanting to coach cross-country,” Johnson said.

Hurley and Johnson plan a varied training regimen for their student-athletes. Some days, the run will be short “and intense” — tied into a physical workout — and other days. the runs will be “long and slow,” Hurley said.

Occasionally the runners will run on the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve; at other times, they will train on Santa Rosa Creek Road.

Hurley said it’s unfortunate that he can no longer take his team through the Covell property. After The Nature Conservancy purchased an easement in 2012, six strands of barbed wire were put in place, keeping the public — and cross-country athletes — out.

“We used to use that a lot,” Hurley recalled. “That was a wonderful place for cross-country training,” Hurley recalled. “That was a wonderful place for cross-country training."

Johnson didn’t have any opportunity to run competitively in high school.

“We didn’t even have cross-country at my high school in Sebastopol,” he said. “If they had offered cross-country, I probably would have done pretty well.”

Now, Johnson and Hurley will be making sure their student athletes do well.

Follow John FitzRandolph on Twitter at @johnfitz44.

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