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Posts Tagged ‘ultra running’

   Natasha Bamberger, a five-time state champ at Coupeville High School in the ’80s, has returned to revive the school’s cross country program. (Photo courtesy Bamberger)

Bamberger with Craig Pedlar, her high school cross country coach, and current Wolf supernova Lindsey Roberts. (Sherry Roberts photo)

She is legend.

Natasha Bamberger isn’t one to toot her own horn, or dwell on her past accomplishments, but I’m here to tell you – there is no bigger name in Coupeville sports history.

The new coach of the CHS cross country team, who is tasked along with CMS harrier coach Elizabeth Bitting to revive a program which has lain largely dormant for two decades, is the real deal.

During her days at Coupeville High School, Bamberger won five state titles, four in track (1600 and 3200 in ’84, 3200 in ’85 and ’86) and became the first Wolf to win a cross country championship when she topped the field in ’85.

Now, after a lifetime of wandering the country, pursuing her passions and raising two highly-accomplished children, she’s back home, ready to inspire the current generation of Wolf runners.

As she prepares for her new job (first day of practice is Aug. 22), Bamberger took time to talk about why running and coaching mean so much to her.

The minute that my life allowed me to be able to coach I did. I always wanted to coach and knew I would.

I volunteered with my local high school cross country team in Vermont.

Within a couple weeks, the Athletic Director gave me the team.

I wanted to coach because literally everything I had accomplished and challenges I faced up to this point in my life — flight school, SERE school, even a war — I attribute to the confidence that running gave me, and especially for the love and time my coaches growing up put into me.

I admired my coaches and wanted to give back what they gave me.

I started out with only eight girls and within three years the team grew to 33.

We were competitive; I was thrilled with their success and we always finished at state in the top four individually as well as the team.

But the biggest gift I was given was a freshman on my team told me and the parents at the banquet dinner at the end of the season was that coach gave her the “love” of running.

I feel this is the most important and a gift to carry you life-long.

As you can imagine, that was quite a moment that I still cherish.

I expected to give to the team from my experience and passion for the sport but they actually inspired me, which I did not expect as a coach.

I am so proud of my runners.

This short four years is so important. I truly believe that they can do anything with the right amount of support.

Many went on to very good colleges and universities, several on cross country scholarships. Two went pro mountain biking.

One met me on the road training and she told me she was going pro Nordic skiing and moving to the Sierra Nevada’s.

She said, “You competed when you were older, Natasha, I can too!”

Through the years, my runners would knock on my door when they came home to go for a run and I felt honored to be invited to their families weddings.

The most amazing thing was these girls inspired me.

I was asked to train with a Eco Challenge team that had competed internationally in Borneo.

I accepted, saying, sure guys, if I can keep up, and it was then I fell in love with ultra running. Especially technical mountain running.

In the next five years I was asked to compete on better and better teams, got sponsored, racing in the Pyrenees, Spain, Newfoundland, Brazil, qualified in Oregon and Western Australia to finish at the World Championships in Gstaad, Switzerland in 2004.

I was the only woman on a four-person team.

I always found it interesting that my coaches in Coupeville always had me run with the boys to push me, which sometimes was not always what I wanted to do.

But, as an adult, I raced and worked with them exclusively in my job flying as a part of an aircrew, ultra running and racing.

When I moved back to Coupeville, I was sad to learn we did not have a team.

I wanted to coach and give back to the sport that gave so much to me.

I have great memories and feel so fortunate to have grown up running on these beautiful trails and roads. I want to share that.

I also feel that cross country attracts a great group of kids. It is a family.

Cross country teaches great lessons in life. How to work hard and see it through to a goal. This builds on itself life-long.

There are amazing opportunities for runners to get scholarships and entry to very good universities and colleges.

Looks great on their applications. I feel employers like to see it as well.

Whatever I can do to help launch these kids during these most important years I want to help and be a part of that.

Cross country is not an easy sport. It takes heart and your whole soul.

Seeing my runners work together, grow as people, get after those opportunities running and beyond is very rewarding.

We are going to have a great season.

We are starting small, but I have been there before and will build a strong, fun program for Coupeville.

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