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Runner without limits

Posted by rc360 on March 8, 2010

City College Women’s Track and Field Head Coach Marisa Avendano watches her athletes practice. (saccityexpress.com/Rob Small)

Many head coaches at City College oversee one sport each year. Marisa Avendano is in charge of two.

Avendano, 36, is the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country teams, and is in her first year as head coach of the women’s track and field team. Her love of running and competing has kept her coaching.

“I consider myself a very competitive person,” Avendano says. “I competed in practice as well as I did in an actual competition. I loved track practice. Running on the roads, running on trails, I loved every single minute of it.”

Even though she loves what she does now, she didn’t see herself being a coach. She was originally a business major and received her master’s degree in kinesiology, the science of human movement.

In 1997, she started training for cross-country in the Olympic Trials, which were held before the summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. The trials were held at Sacramento State University in 2000, where she holds three of the school’s cross-country records.

“It took a lot of dedication and hard work,” she says. “I was running around a six- minute pace (per mile) for 14 miles.  I loved every single step.”

Avendano trained from 1997-98, but a foot injury ended her hopes for the trials.

“I really couldn’t do much with my running career,” she says. “I said, ‘Hey, why not start coaching?’”

Avendano began her coaching career at City College in 2000 as an assistant coach for a cross-country team that wasn’t prominent at the time. She wanted to make a difference in the program.

Last season, the women’s cross-country team, coached by Avendano, earned the 2009 Big 8 Conference Championship. Now, she hopes to continue winning while coaching women’s track and field.

“She brings a lot of energy,” women’s track and field assistant coach Bill Carr says.  “She brings the experience of having been part of the program for years past. I think she’s very dedicated and focused on continuing the tradition that the ladies’ program has here.”

Like other coaches, Avendano also teaches classes on campus, but she says she was reluctant to teach at first.  Former women’s track and field coach Lisa Bauduin encouraged her to teach athletic classes at City College. After being put in charge of a walking class, Avendano discovered she loved teaching.

“The way I teach, it’s kind of like having a team, but now you’re in a classroom,” she says.

Avendano has taught classes in weight training, aerobics, boot camp and yoga.

As a head coach, she has to keep track of the athletes who practice during various times of the day. Although it may be difficult, sprinter Samantha Tansil knows that her coach is doing the right thing.

“She brings a lot of support to our team,” Tansil says. “She allows us to all sit together as a family, which we should be.”

Avendano has always been a competitor.  Her passion for the sport will burn through the season coaching the track and field team to be the best.

Click here to read the story on the Express website.

Click here to read the story on the Express print newspaper.

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