For the past five years, Sandy Laurence has relentlessly encouraged her athletes to avoid comfort zones and strive to be the best. Now, after one more season this fall coaching the cross country team, she will live by her own creed and move on to further her education.
“If you want to be the best, if you want to reach your potential, then you have to push beyond where everything is easy,” Laurence said. “You have to push yourself to be the very best you can be. And I’m now at the point where I need to push beyond where I am today. I need to be a better Sandy Laurence. I believe that my calling is to coach, so I want to be the best coach I can be.”
At first, Woodinville athletic director Terry Agnew tried to talk the 59-year old Laurence into staying. But after she finalized the decision, he expressed his appreciation.
“Sandy brought tremendous energy and dedication to our cross country and track programs,” Agnew said. “She is a tireless worker that is very organized. She’s very loyal and is constantly looking for ways to help make her runners more fit and competitive. She will be missed at Woodinville.”
Clark Cyr, who recently graduated from Woodinville after running cross country for three years, once described the difference she made in his life.
“Sandy completely revolutionized my running,” he said. “I used to be a heel strike runner. My heel used to be the first thing to hit the ground when I run. That’s what the majority of runners do. But she taught me how to run hitting my toes and mid-foot first. Which is a lot more efficient and makes you a lot faster runner. Without her I would have never been able to do it. I would be nowhere without Sandy. I wouldn’t even be running high school cross country without Sandy. Most of my success comes from her support and her teachings.”
When asked to be more specific about her education goals, Laurence elaborated.
“I want to be better at what I’m doing,” she said. “I want to know more about what I’m doing so I can share more of the why of coaching. Why did that work? Why did that drill make a difference? Why does eating at a certain time make a difference? Well, I think I know the answers, I’ve done a lot of research to think I know, but I want to be able to prove I know.
“That’s what I teach the kids. If they want to be better, they’ve got to be better. I study so much even as it is, but I need help. I need my own coach to reach that next level.”
Finally, Laurence was asked to reflect on what the team has meant to her.
“One of the goals that [fellow coach] Hiro Ikebata and I had for them was to develop strong, team-minded leaders. We love that the team leaders feel a sense of responsibility toward their younger teammates and the success of those who follow them. I’ll be proud to leave the next distance coach a strong, competitive, motivated and caring team of student athletes.”