Inspiring Coaches Finalist Ben Talsma

Crossroads Charter Academy - Big Rapids, MI

Number of years coaching: 8 years as Head Track and Field Coach, 5 years as Head Cross Country Coach.

At a glance: As the head cross country and track and field coach at Crossroads Charter Academy, Coach Ben Talsma teaches kids from Kindergarten up to 12th grade the joys of running. His team has come from humble roots with minimal equipment and dismal track, but with hard work and determination they have become state champions. Many of the students on his team can’t afford their own shoes, so Coach Talsma keeps a bin of used shoes available for athletes to use. Rain or shine, he is teaching his athletes to stick it out and never give up both in school and on the field.


What piece of advice does Coach Talsma give an athlete having a bad day to inspire them?
Sometimes, doubts and fears start to darken an athlete's day before they step on the track. In those cases, I remind athletes of their successes--of past times when they overcame their doubts. I tell them, "You can always do more than you think you can do"; it's one of my favorite truisms.

If an athlete has run a race that didn't meet his or her expectations, we try to learn from it. If there's something we can learn from and go forward with, the race wasn't a failure. I also check to see if they feel like they gave it everything that they could--and that if they did, that defines success better than any other measure.

What makes Coach Talsma Run Happy?
I love to get out of town, find a little trail, put on my Cascadias, and fly through the forest. I love the feeling of being in shape, being able to pick up the pace effortlessly, of being able to finish runs exhilarated instead of exhausted. I love knowing that you're making progress and that the goals which seemed a little far-fetched now feel like they just might be within your grasp.

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