|New cross country coach knows the challenges
By Dan Manley
Advocate Sports Editor
If you’re going to be a cross country coach it’s probably a good idea that you’ve covered a lot of distance in your life.
And if you’re going to follow a coaching legend like Hopey Newkirk it might be a good idea if you feel like the job has sought you rather than you seeking the job.
Enter Krista Reeves.
Reeves is the new cross country coach at Montgomery County High School and takes over a program that has enjoyed quite a bit of success under Newkirk, who retired following a long tenure after last season.
Reeves certainly didn’t set out to be a head coach but was sort of hand-picked by Newkirk as a possible successor and the pieces just fell into place.
“This may not be a high profile sport like football or basketball, but it’s just as important to these young people,” Reeves said. “I feel challenged to give them the best chance to succeed they can have.”
A Kentucky Girl
Krista grew up in Lawrence County, along with her husband Gordon.
They both ran track in high school (440 yard dash folks) and then when they got to Morehead State University they started running longer distances, to stay in shape and “for therapy” she says with a laugh.
Krista has competed in a number of 5K events and mini- and half-marathons during her running career.
Out of college, Reeves was working in research at the University of Kentucky but decided to make a career change, in part at the urging of her in-laws who were both teachers.
Now 39, Krista has been teaching biology and anatomy at Montgomery County for almost a decade and has helped with the track and field program off and on over those years depending on where she was with her three daughters, now in the seventh and fourth grade,s along with a 4-year-old at Little Einstein’s Day Care.
“I feel like we’ve kept those folks open over the years,” she quipped.
Just last year she began helping with the cross country program, particularly working with the highly successful elementary school program.
“Coach Newkirk was talking about retiring last season and she asked how I would feel about being a head coach,” she said.
“I had never really thought about being a head coach and didn’t really know if that was where I should be.”
Reeves said that God has a way of putting you where you should be, having felt like that’s how she ended up in the teaching profession. That’s really what seemed to happen with the cross country job.
“It seems that everyone else has more confidence in me than I have in myself,” she explained. “The basics of running the program, well, I’ve seen Hopey do those things and I’m comfortable with managing the practices and trying to prepare the kids for competition.
“But Hopey is so well known by everyone in the cross country world and I’m going to be a newcomer and that will have some challenges.”
Initially, Reeves needs runners.
Varsity runners that is.
The program has plenty of competitors at the younger levels (34 elementary school runners out for the team right now) but there are only 10 varsity runners in the program at the present time.
“Our initial challenge is to hopefully get some more runners out as school gets going and then to keep athletes in the program going forward,” she explained.
“We’ll be looking at moving some of our middle school runners up to the varsity level if we don’t get some more team members in the next couple of weeks.”
The Indians will open an active schedule Saturday, Aug. 24, in the Bourbon County Colonel Charge at Paris.
The varsity girls kick off the day at 9 a.m. with the varsity boys going off at 9:45 a.m. There will be events that day all the way through the elementary grades K-2 boys at 2:45 p.m.
There are 11 dates on the calendar prior to the KHSAA State Championships Saturday, Nov. 2, at The Kentucky Horse Park.
The Montgomery County teams will also host the MOCO All-Comers event at their home course, The Warpath, on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 5:30 p.m. Teams from Powell County, Clark County, Bath County, Menifee County and St. Agatha are expected to compete in that event.
The Indians have been practicing from 10 a.m. to noon at Easy Walker Park but will be moving to The Warpath later this week and eventually switching to evening practices.
“We’ll be looking to get our runners off of the blacktop and onto the grass course before the week is over.”
Krista’s husband works in engineering and industrial maintenance with Webesto Automotive and is currently in Rumania for a symposium for the international company.
“He was in China last year, but he usually doesn’t have to be away for long,” said noted.
So Krista is juggling getting ready for school, the cross country program and taking care of their three daughters, 12-year-old Bailey, 9-year-old Elizabeth and 4-year-old Elly.
The older girls are already in the cross country program and Elly figures to be there soon.
“Hopey was an institution in this job,” Reeves said. “You don’t replace that. I’ll just do the best job I can to give our young people a chance to compete.”
“I’ll be looking for a lot of support form the parents and the administration and those who coach with me to do the best job we can for the runners. This is a great sport for some youngsters who won’t be involved in anything else in their careers and we want to give them a chance to have as much success and as positive an experience as possible.”