Summer is the season high school student athletes look forward to as a break from the stress of grades and other academic responsibilities. It’s a time to kick back, do some surfing, skateboarding, traveling, earn money with part-time jobs, hang out and spend leisure time with friends and family.
But Coast Union cross country coach Ayen Johnson encourages his runners to stay active in the summer. He holds voluntary runs on Thursdays, and as he says, “Sometimes I get one, sometimes three, and sometimes more show up.”
On Thursday, July 7, two student athletes — David May, and Paul Butterfield — showed up at Coast Union for a run with Johnson on Santa Rosa Creek Road.
In my freshman year of cross country I didn’t know what to expect. I was just running. This year I have to be more strategic.
Paul Butterfield, Coast Union cross country runner
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May, who ran cross country and played soccer and baseball in his freshman year, looks forward to improving his cross country time in his sophomore year. This year he’s going out for basketball and figures cross country should prepare him for the speed he will need on the hard court.
“I know I’m not good enough to be a collegiate athlete anywhere, especially because I’m from a small school,” he said, adding, “I just want to expand my experiences,” which is why he went out for soccer last year and this year it’s basketball.
May follows in the footsteps of two older sisters — Morgan and Maddie — who excelled in sports at Coast. He doesn’t feel any pressure to be as good as they were: “Nobody is going to judge my athletic ability based on my sisters’ reputations.”
His goals for cross country in 2016: “Anything below 20 minutes in the 5K; the closest I got last year was 21 minutes. Mentally, this is one of the toughest sports I’ve ever been in.”
Butterfield, the team MVP during his sophomore year, hopes to break 17 minutes in the 5K this fall. Last year, his best time was 17.10.
“My real goal is to score better in the Cal Poly race. I went out too fast last year” and didn’t have enough energy left for the finish. “I feel stronger this year. I have been doing a lot of other sports; I have been skateboarding a lot. In my freshman year of cross country I didn’t know what to expect. I was just running.
“This year I have to be more strategic. I’m a big competitor, and sometimes I get out there and go a little too fast too soon. But I hope I can get over that this year. This is the year for me.”
The community is invited to participate as the Broncos launch their first competitive 5K along the Pinedorado Parade route Sept. 3. It’s a fundraiser for the CUHS American Field Service Program. For more information, call Sharon Bisso (805-995-1432) or Marcia Hilger (805-927-4965).