Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. They sat in the lush green grass of Chipeta Park, stretching their legs, enjoying the sunshine and chatting about anything and everything that popped into their mind. It was easy conversation and teasing, laughing at each other’s quirks, a sharing of the moment.
The Indian Peaks Run Club had just finished their first venture of the summer last Friday, June 10, 2016, a series of games geared to running, a getting-to-know-each-other session. Many of the kids were already teammates on the Nederland Middle School cross-country team and well-acquainted with each other and their coach, Jen Lavely.
The program is for 6th-12th graders and runs from June 9 to August 12, Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and Fridays, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The 3rd to 5th graders meet on Mondays, 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Fridays, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Erin Davidson, Jen’s assistant coach, a CSU student, worked with the club last fall and says it is her goal to get the kids to be active, to get them moving in a world that has become stationary, sitting in front of devices.
As the runners talked, they discovered that their coach had gone to Harvard. “No way,” they exclaimed, in awe at that accomplishment. Jen said it wasn’t actually all that impressive and their reaction is why she doesn’t often tell people about her education.
She said that during high school and college she worked hard, once in a factory and once as an Easter Bunny in a mall, which she said was hot work. She also swam six hours a day. “If I can do it, anyone can do it,” she said.
After completing her masters’ degree at Yale University, Jen returned home to Colorado to take on a demanding job as the director of a rural county public health department. From there, the outdoors beckoned and Jen took on long-distance trail running, orienteering, and Nordic skiing.
In 2006, she began, and still coaches, the Peak to Peak Swim Team for youth and Masters. In 2010 she coached the Nederland Middle School Cross Country Team, and offered year-round running opportunities to kids and adults in the area as well as directed several area running races – collectively known today as the Indian Peaks Running Club, which she co-founded with Kathy Butler.
Her coaching philosophy, which she keeps fresh by constant study of the sport is simple:
The one or two hours every athlete spends with her should be the best hours of their day; Every athlete gets the same positive, dignified, and empowering attention from their coach regardless of ability.
On Friday, the runners spoke of goals, one of which was made by Adam Figgins, who wants to improve on his 6:20 mile record.
He has a whole summer to do it, stretching before all of them, offering them some of the best hours of the day, maybe the week, or maybe the best hours of the summer.