Running modestly


Nick Seda

Coach Westphal shows off his past success with a trophy.

Coach James Westphal has an impressive repertoire; he’s a four time All-American who has also competed in two Olympic trials and in three Cross Country World Championships. Mr. Westphal is the one of the only people in the world whose name falls into all of these categories. Westphal, Cross Country Head Coach and Department Chair for Special Education, does not brag about his achievements, but rather keeps them quiet. Westphal is a modest man who keeps his achievements quiet.

“Sometimes I have to brag for him,” said Mr. Jim Kupres, Cross Country Assistant Coach.

With respect to his accomplishments, his modesty is astonishing. Westphal, the youngest of seven, was not a good runner at first. In fact, he did it because he wanted to be involved in school. Since then, running has been integral to who Westphal is.

“Since he has had so much success it has played a major role in his life,” Kupres said. “He met a lot of friends through it, [for example] we met at college. He wants other kids to share his experience, and he knows the positives of running don’t only come with success.”

Westphal makes his goal for every runner clear: improvement comes through hard work and commitment each day. However, his philosophy for coaching is simple. “Every student-athlete can contribute to our program no matter their talent level,” Westphal said. “I value hard work and commitment day in and day out.”

Westphal has one specific favorite interest in running, He lives for competition. He enjoys seeing how each athlete responds to their challenges at races. But, he is not only interested in results. The emotions and nerves pregame also interest him because it is his job as a coach to help manage them.

“[Westphal] wants me to come to practice every day so I can improve and strive to get better,” said Liam Bots, junior.

By the time a runner’s career comes to an end, Westphal has one thing he wants each of his runners to remember. He wants them to know the importance of resiliency. He wants them to have learned how to respond to life’s challenges in a positive way.

Some may call him a “middle of the road guy.” But, it is obvious that Westphal has much more to him: his experience and knowledge of the sport to coach his athletes to the best of their abilities.