Inside Look: Graduating Three Girls Doesn't Stop Palmetto

Name: Micah Roberts
School: Palmetto High School
Years coaching: This is my sixth year coaching
Vision:  When I started, I had hoped to build a solid program at Palmetto. My first season we only had eight girls and thirteen boys. We have been able to grow into a larger team, but we have also worked to change our mindset. I want the girls and boys to believe that they belong amongst the top cross country and track programs in our state. 

Class AAA girls individual rankings | Team rankings

How did summer training go for your team? 
It went well. It is difficult with vacations, mission trips, students splitting time between parents, etc. to have everyone attend as many summer sessions as I would like. Focus was on building a solid base for both our new and returning runners. 

How do you prepare for the season with winning a state title last season?
Winning state last season was amazing, but we lost three very valuable seniors from our team last year. The girls know that this is a completely different team. That is not stopping them from pushing every day to achieve their goals. 

What kind of goals do you have? 
The athletes set all of our team goals. They set individual, specific team and overall team goals each season. As for me, my goal is to teach our younger athletes and help them grow into mature runners. Also, to continue to develop our returners to be as successful as possible. 

Why do you coach and how long have you been coaching? 
I coach because I love the sport and the kids. I love how it is a sport that rewards hard work. I love that there are no politics - there is proof in the numbers! More importantly, the kids are such a blessing to me. I enjoy my time with them each day. I love the lasting relationships I am able to make. 

What is your biggest challenge as a coach? 
There are two main challenges. First, getting quality athletes to try the sport. Either they think they wouldn't be good, or they 'hate to run', or they would rather sit the bench in another sport, it is challenging to convince kids to give it a try. Secondly, it is challenging to have the athletes believe in their abilities. Often, I will have athletes that practice at a very high level; however, they are scared to take that leap in a race. This goes back to the change in mindset. Having them believe that they belong and to "trust their fitness."

What is your motivation? 
The student that has never participated in a sport that comes out, falls in love with running, and makes some friends in the process. The student who loses fifty pounds over the course of the year. The athlete that takes a chance on a new sport and ends up being great. The sweaty hugs and tears of joy after an athlete finishes a great race. Watching a former runner participate in a collegiate race. Former athletes coming to practice or a meet. 

Did you run in high school? Please explain and share event bests. 
I ran cross country only for my junior and senior seasons. One of my best friends ran and his Junior year they were not going to have enough runners to field a team. He begged a few of us to come run, and we decided to try it. I ended up falling in love with the sport, so when the chance came about to coach at the school I competed for it was a no brainer.

Top returners: 
Morgan Roberts, Madison Crumley, Allison McCauley, Joeli Hayden
Top newcomers: Emma Austin, Miriam Williams
Top meets preparing for: Region, State
Sleeper runners: Anna Sutherland, Madison Sell