Inspiring Coaches Finalist Jeremy Darby

Landrum High School - Campobello, SC

Number of years coaching: 5 years coaching Cross Country and Track and Field

At a glance: Coach Jeremy Darby inspires not only his team to run, but his entire community. He opens practices to the public and it is not uncommon to find 15 - 20 adults, many of them parents, running or walking the suggested routes. A coach who leads by example, Coach Darby runs every step with his athletes and is known to create families out of his teams. After workouts, he sets up games for team-building, plans dinners with other teams and hosts an annual party at his house. Each year before the state meet, he writes a poem for any runner who has qualified encouraging them to run their best.


What piece of advice does Coach Darby give an athlete having a bad day to inspire them?
I usually tell them a funny quote or running story. One of my favorites comes from Coach Joe Newton (won over 30 state championships); coach of York High School in Illinois. Joe says, "However fast you are running, RUN FASTER!!!" Probably my best advice comes from an African proverb. "Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle... when the sun comes up, you'd better be running." But if one of my athletes is really down and out, I will probably give them a biblical verse of scripture like Isaiah 40:29-31.

What makes Coach Darby Run Happy?
Coaching really gave me my second wind as far as my whole career in teaching goes. I didn’t start coaching until my fourth full year of teaching. By that point in my career, I was really starting to get a daily rut. It was like all the excitement and newness of teaching had vanished. I had always wanted to coach cross country and track, however in the school district in which I worked had two high schools with XC/track coaches that were not planning on leaving their teams any time soon. I was so thankful that one of those positions eventually came open and that I was a top candidate for the job. I have always loved high school XC/track and couldn’t wait to get in there and communicate my love of the sport with the kids. Coaching has been everything I hoped it would be. It has given me a chance to relive the best parts of my high school life. It has kept me young. But most importantly, it has given me a chance to inspire the next generation of runners. I am a Christian and part of my duty as such is to be a positive influence on the young men and women I coach and mentor. I am blessed to say that many of the athletes I have coached have become excellent runners, with 5 of them now running collegiately. So in closing, what makes me "Run Happy" is knowing that this is more than just a sport or a hobby... it is a way for me to make a difference in the lives of young people.

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