Volunteers add free assistance to Hawkeye cross-country squad


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The Iowa women harriers have three extra runners this season — but none of them are students at the university.

Diane Nukuri Johnson, Evelyn Ross, and Jeff Randall are all volunteer assistants helping head coach Layne Anderson lead his squad. Anderson said that while the position is “glamorless,” they are “vital” to the team.

Their tasks consist of training with the harriers, filming, timing, driving, and other “odd jobs” that Anderson assigns them. To the women, however, the assistants provide extra guidance and support.

“It’s really nice because they’re more like peers to us, so they understand us,” freshman Megan Ranegar said. “They are really good about helping us through the workouts because they know exactly how we’re running and how we’re feeling.”

The relationship between the assistants and the team is reciprocal, because, the volunteers said, they personally benefit from the experience as well.

Although the volunteers put in as much dedication and time commitment as many head coaches, they said they do not expect payment for their efforts.

Nukuri Johnson, a former Iowa runner in her second year as an assistant, said she still considers Anderson her coach as she trains for the 2012 Olympics. She said doing the workouts with her former harrier squad keeps her in shape for future races.

Randall, who ran at Columbia University, said assisting the team not only keeps him running but also gives him a chance to stay close to his girlfriend, Megan Lessard, who runs for the Hawkeyes.

Lessard and Randall graduated from Columbia together in May 2009, and he decided to follow her to the Midwest so she could finish her running career as a graduate student at Iowa.

“Layne asked Megan what my plans were after college, and then asked if I would like to come help out here,” Randall said. “I guess I didn’t have anything else to do, and I’ve been running for a long time, so I thought this would be a natural progression to begin coaching.”

The 22-year-old Ross ran at Regina High and continued to become a Division-III All-American. Anderson said she is here because she “desires to help and get involved.”

Anderson also noted having Nukuri Johnson and Ross around provides the women with female role models who help the women with issues he would not understand as well.

Nukuri Johnson said the experience is especially special for her because she was teammates with some of the squad’s veterans.

“I love watching them and seeing them progress,” she said. “I’m not out there telling them what to do, I’m just there if they need someone to talk to. I’ve been through the same things that they are going through now.”

The team and the volunteers agreed that assistant “coaches” is not the best title for the volunteers because they do not act as authority figures. Although they run with the team and give Anderson feedback about the women’s progress, they are primarily there for support.

“It’s nice to have more faces at practice,” sophomore Betsy Flood said. “I wouldn’t really classify them as coaches. They are more like members of the team.”

> Share your thoughts! Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

comments powered by Disqus
Daily Iowan Advertising
Today's Display Ads | Today's Classifieds | Advertising Info

Follow the DI through:

Sponsored Links  
T-Shirt Design  
Insurance Leads Charlotte Web Design
Health Insurance Leads Home Equity Loans
Home Service Guides  
Life Insurance DMI Furniture
Custom Magnets Buy a text ad


Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.