By Ann Leach

Brian Crigger is the head cross-country coach and assistant track coach at Carthage (Missouri) High School and is entering his 18th year of teaching. Crigger said he loves coaching because “it teaches young athletes about working hard, having dedication and how to be committed to accomplishing individual and team goals. These are lifelong skills that help my athletes to be not only good runners, but more importantly good people.” 

Sharing a love of running and working with young adults is Crigger’s passion. He is rewarded by seeing his runners work hard and reach their goals. “I remind them that consistency is the key to success,” he said. “It is important to have patience and continually put in the work if they want to reach their full potential. I have to hold some of my runners back a bit because they try to go as hard as they can every day, and I have to remind them that we have easy days and recovery days for a reason and oftentimes they are just as important as the harder days.”

And what does Crigger do when those hard days come, and he just doesn’t feel like running? “I remind myself about the goals that we have and how it takes hard work and determination to get where you want to be. I tell my runners that progress isn’t made inside our comfort zones, and we have to do things we’ve never done to reach places we have never been before.” He also regularly practices visualization and encourages the kids to use it, as well. “When I was racing, I would often picture every aspect of a race in the evenings as a nighttime routine,” he said. “I tell my runners that it is much easier to complete our goals if we have already pictured ourselves being successful multiple times in their heads. I feel this works for all aspects of life and not just running.”

Still, there can be challenges in the job. “Being a teenager already has its own challenges,” Crigger said. “But in Carthage, we also have a high rate of childhood poverty, so I always try to make sure that all my athletes have everything they need to be successful. Sometimes that means new shoes, other times it might just mean some snacks during the school day.” Crigger cited the “awesome sponsors” who support the team and help the students regardless of their background and ability level. 

When he isn’t coaching, Crigger enjoys swimming, biking, hiking and all forms of cross training. “I particularly like running while my daughter rides her scooter or bike next to me,” he said. “And we also love just going to one of the local parks and playing.” 

Crigger is asked often about how to get started exercising. “I often tell people that exercise needs to be a lifestyle choice and not just jumping into some extreme conditioning program that they may not be able to sustain year-round. All we can do is start where we currently are and try to improve ourselves,” Crigger said. “You don’t have to have a killer workout every day, just keep moving forward!”