By Michael YEGHIAYAN
This Sunday, nearly 20 members of Rosemont’s Power Walking and Running club will line up outside Dodger Stadium and take part in this year’s Los Angeles Marathon. In the club’s inaugural year, students will run the famed 26.2 mile race after putting in months of dedication and practice.
The man behind the runners is Rosemont teacher Terry Parker who has coached and mentored the students in the months leading up to the race. Parker, who formerly coached students in Students Run LA through Rosemont and Crescenta Valley High School, has seen first hand the benefits of working toward a goal like the completion of a marathon.
“This is great for the kids, said Parker. “The put in a lot of work but you can see how much they enjoy it.”
Although all the students are running toward the same finish line, they each have their own reason for getting out of bed early on the weekends and committing themselves to their training.
“I wanted the accomplishment of running 26.2 miles,” explained student JC Jaramillo. “I know it’s a tough goal, but I know I can finish it.”
The desire to overcome adversity was a common theme among the students’ various reasons for running.
“I mainly joined because people teased me and judged me and I wanted to prove to them that I can be successful, said student Miguel Avila. “I wouldn’t have succeeded if it wasn’t for [Coach Parker]. He was so supportive.”
Few are more familiar with the confidence that builds with hard work and dedication than Coach Parker, but even he has the ability to be surprised by the transformation that can take place.
“[Avila] proved me wrong, I was one of the doubters,” admitted Parker. “In the beginning he struggled, his feet hurt a lot. Now I’ve seen him finish two half marathons and a 30k.”
While a commitment to nearly seven months of training and a 26.2 mile race may seem overwhelming for a group of middle school students, the members of Rosemont PWR were visibly excited to face their challenge this weekend. This year, the students will be joined by their coach on the course. Although he is unable to run after sustaining a knee injury, Coach Parker intends to speed walk this year’s marathon.
Even with their mentor out of earshot, the runners had nothing but positive things to say about their experience and Coach Parker’s guidance.
“He’s been totally supportive through injuries or anything we need, he’s always been right there with us,” said student Jessy Shelton.