Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

The Holy Grail

Seven months from now, I will step into the shoes of Odysseus and embark on an epic journey. I will travel virtual lands, fighting mighty academic dragons, in search of (to mix even more literary metaphors), my own holy grail: the hallowed assistant professorship.

In the meantime, I’m doing everything that I can to make myself the most viable candidate possible, from drafting chapters and submitting articles, to presenting at conferences and organizing workshops.

The one thing that probably won’t help me in entering the academic fray is coaching high school cross-country. But that is exactly what I’ll be doing this fall. And hopefully, loving every minute of it.

A couple weeks ago, Brent and I went to a regional swimming championship to watch some of his students compete. At the meet, I started talking to one of his colleagues in the history department, a fellow runner and triathlete who also happens to be the head cross-country coach. She was lamenting the fact that her esteemed assistant would be retiring at the end of this year.

“So you’ll have to find another assistant for next year?” I asked, without even a hint of self-interest.

“Yep,” she said. “Are you interested?”

At first I thought she was joking, but after a bit of prodding I detected some semblance of seriousness.

“You do know that I know absolutely nothing about running,” I told her.

“That’s okay,” she responded. “I just want someone to be a role model for the girls, someone who’s able to train with them on a regular basis and keep them motivated. I can’t run around with them as much as I used to.”

After thinking about it for a few days, I emailed her and happily accepted the offer. Not only is it a modicum of disposable income that I wasn’t expecting; it’ll be a great way to break up the dissertation writing and have a non-academic outlet for the stress of the job market.

So, come fall, I will be spending my afternoons running around with high schools girls that are far more talented and far more knowledgeable than I am. What could be better?

I wonder if I get a cool coach’s shirt out of it.

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7 responses to “The Holy Grail

  1. Kristin February 27, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    That’s so fun! I’ve always wanted to do something like that but don’t have the time with a 9 to 5 job. Girls on the Run is a cool organization that I wish I had time to volunteer as a coach. Good luck with that and I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  2. Ali Wish February 27, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    That’s so cool. You’ll be like the cool, young coach. I picture it like in American Pie: Coach: “You don’t score til you score” Abby: “Til you SCORE!”

  3. RunToFinish February 27, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    WOW that sounds like a ton of fun! I would love to be a mentor in that type of role, kudos to you.

  4. Denise February 27, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    That is so cool!! I’ve been thinking of volunteering with Girls on the Run but right now I just don’t have the time to give it my all.

  5. N.D. February 28, 2009 at 12:51 am

    That is going to be AWESOME. You are going to love coaching – and they will probably make you a better runner. They are going to be so lucky to have you as a role model!

  6. I Run for Fun February 28, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    That is so cool. I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun. And it will be a stress reliever.

  7. X-Country2 February 28, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    What a great opportunity! How fun. I suspect 15 year from now some girl is going to be blogging about this wonderful coach she had back in the day. :o)

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