New Cross Country Coach Motivates Young Team


Cross country coach Sarah Thomas (at right) draws on her own running experiences to motivate athletes.

Cross Country welcomes new head coach Sarah Thomas who brings high hopes for the 2022 fall season. Facing a primarily freshman team, Thomas hopes to prioritize team building and improvement among the younger athletes. 

“My three goals are to work hard, to have fun, and to support others,” Thomas said. “So far we’re achieving them.”

While Thomas has no history with cross country, she plans to use her knowledge of distance running as a marathoner to effectively coach this season.

“I try to apply a lot of things that I did when I was training for my own 5ks or for half marathons or marathons…to training the team for their cross country meets.”

Thomas has been coaching for many years, primarily swimming. She has also coached volleyball, which she played in college. 

“I coached swimming for about 8 ½ years and taught kids of all ages. I also worked with adults and coached them as well.”

Currently, Thomas is focusing on incorporating fun as well as hard work into practices. Athletes on the team appreciate her commitment to making practice enjoyable.

“She likes to have a lot of fun during practice,” senior and team captain Kyle Kochan said. “We played sharks and minnows recently which everyone really liked.”

As a new coach, Thomas believes it’s important to keep a hopeful attitude and maintain positive interactions with students. 

“She’s very supportive and has a lot of enthusiasm,” assistant cross country coach Peter Kirk said. “She’s new to coaching cross country so she’s up for learning anything about coaching.”

Thomas is currently preparing for the New York City Marathon in November, which will be her 9th marathon. 

“Running is a team sport, but it’s also individual. It’s about proving to yourself what you’re capable of,” Thomas said. 

Recently, Thomas left her HR job to allow for more time with her infant son. This decision granted her the time in her schedule for coaching.

“I feel motivated, because I hope that as a coach I can inspire athletes, and one day I hope one of those athletes is my son.”

Rockville Cross Country attended its first meet Sep. 17 at the Bull Run Invitational. They competed against schools from across Maryland and Virginia. 

“Even if you’re coming in last or if you’re not up in the front, not getting discouraged is very important,” Thomas said. “Remember that you’re still going the distance, whether you’re in the front or the back, you still go the three miles.”