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Legacy Press

The Student News Site of Klein Collins High School

Legacy Press

The Student News Site of Klein Collins High School

Legacy Press

Cross Country Coach Retires After 13 Years

Cross Country Coach Retires After 13 Years
Hannah McGee

Silence creeps into the room as tears slowly stream down the faces of the girls’ cross country team. The explosion from the news they just received more than makes-up for the stillness in the room.

“The silence kind of killed everybody,” first-year cross country racer Mary Danforth said. “He told the boys first so some of the girls knew and some didn’t. It was kind of like a whispered thing because they didn’t know if they should tell others or not.”

Cross country coach, Mike Del Donno one of two original coaches since the school’s inception, announced last month that he will not return to coaching in the fall.

Del Donno, who started his coaching career in 1999, said that despite emotional reluctance, he felt it was time for him to retire form coaching.

“As a coach, you put so much effort into their development as athletes and people,”he said. “Sometimes you don’t want that relationship to end, but I just knew it was time for me to ‘write the next chapter’ in my life.”

Emotional attachment was revealed by others apart from Del Donno.

“I’m really upset about it,” sophomore two-year cross country member Natalie Day said. “When he told us I cried. He’s probably my favorite coach I’ve ever had. He made me love the sport more than I already did. I don’t really know that any coach can ever replace him or be as good as he was”

According to Danforth, Del Donno’s charisma was his greatest quality as a coach.

“He was a big part of why I stayed in it,” she said. “He wouldn’t let you quit. He was always making sure everything was o.k. and asking how you are. Halfway through summer practices I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay. He was on vacation and he sent me a postcard and I thought it was really sweet because it showed that he’d noticed and he cared.”

Caring, Del Donno said, is one of the key factors in coaching.

“I don’t know who will take over as the distance coach, but hopefully someone with knowledge and passion and the ability to develop young runners,” he said. “Someone who really knows and loves the sport and truly cares about people.”

Del Donno said that although he recommended people for the job, the hiring process is extensive. A new coach according to Danforth makes her nervous.

“They’re in the process of finding a coach and they probably won’t find one until season starts next year,” she said. “We don’t know if they’ll be summer practices or not. I’m a little hesitant. Adjusting to a new coach and a new way is going to be different.”

Del Donno will adjust to his own differences, mostly concerning his new-found free time.

“I’ll definitely spend more time with my family, that’s the main thing,” he said. “I’ll read more, I’ll write more. I’m still writing my ‘great American novel’ but it’s still very rough and disorganized. As the years go by, my vision of its completion is getting clearer though.”

In addition, Del Donno who sometimes runs from his home in Tomball to the school, plans to train for the Boston Marathon which he would like to enter in the future.

According to Del Dono, although coaching has aged him, he said he might return to it in the future.
“I really think it’s possible that I might coach again one day,” he said. “Right now, I just need some distance from it. I think one day, when I’m finished with high school, I’d like to coach at a small college. That would be a dream.”

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