Brian Kim knows his cross country team doesn’t have the same resources as other schools in the Region. Calumet is a small program, and in his second year as the Warriors’ coach, Kim is doing all he can to support his team and isn’t afraid to ask for help.
Calumet is a part of the Lake Ridge school district, which is facing some financial hardships, so Kim reached out to Fleet Feet in Schererville to see if the store would be willing to donate shoes to his program.
He heard about other teams receiving free shoes in the past, and after speaking with store manager Paul Jellema, his runners became the next in line. After receiving confirmation, the Warriors took a trip to Fleet Feet last month and left with a generous investment into their upcoming season.
“Since we are a low income school, (Jellema) said he would see what he could do and scrap together what he could,” Kim said. “They fitted all of the kids for shoes and sent them all home with a brand new pair of running shoes.”
Team captain Riley Reeder appreciates his coach’s initiative and said that in addition to looking cool, getting a fresh pair of shoes helped bring the team even closer together. As they begin to rack up miles on their new sneakers, Reeder believes the team’s morale will be unshakable.
“I think it was amazing to see everybody get new shoes,” said Reeder, who took home a pair of Hokas. “Outside of the program, to have that kind of support, I think that is outstanding. They did this before, but back then they just threw random pairs in a box and gave them to us. That was wonderful, too, but this time we actually got to go into Fleet Feet.”
The senior said all of the store’s employees were extremely thoughtful in helping each runner find the best shoe for him, and Reeder thinks it is an experience that none of them will forget any time soon.
With a new season on the horizon, Reeder said getting free shoes was a great way to kick off what he hopes will be a memorable campaign. During track season in the spring, he finished 12th in the 800-meter dash at the Valparaiso regional and was a part of Calumet’s 14th place finish at state in the 4x400 relay.
“As a team, getting to regionals is very much in our reach,” Reeder said about his final year of cross country. “And then individually, I plan on making it to state. Obviously to do that, you have to qualify for semistate, which I haven’t done before in past years. But I’ve had a great summer of training, and I expect a lot from myself.”
Andrean names new coaches: Demetrius Clark never envisioned himself becoming a track and field coach.
In fact, the 2000 Merrillville graduate’s first love was basketball. As a youngster, he always thought the hardwood would be where he’d pursue an athletic career. But when he entered high school, it was clear that Clark’s true talent showed when he competed on the track.
Throughout his time as a Pirate, Clark helped the school win three sectional championships and was a two-time state qualifier in the long jump. After coaching at Hanover Central Middle School and Plainfield South in Illinois, he is grateful and humble to accept his first head coaching job at the high school level.
“I feel like I’ve been doing everything the right way,” said Clark, who also served eight years in the Navy. “I coached at the lower levels and moved up through the ranks. But honestly, this is not all about me. I’m in it for the kids. I just want them to have the best success and an amazing experience running track and field.”
Clark will replace interim track and field coach Kelly O’Shea, who was recently hired as the 59ers’ cross country coach. The 2014 Wheeler graduate competed in cross country and track as a prep athlete and continued her career at Vincennes University and Southern Illinois University.
After graduating college last year, O’Shea said she has a lot to learn as one of the youngest coaches in the Region. However, the 23-year-old is excited to get started and thankful for the support Andrean has already shown her during her short tenure.
“Being an athlete, those are some of the best days of your life,” said O'Shea, who was a three-time state qualifier in the 800. “I just want everyone to have fun and improve, and of course, work as a team.”