Sometimes the focus on winning can cloud the larger mission, but a great coach finds ways to open the eyes of their athletes.
And Cornell assistant coach Kevin Thompson has been doing that in a way that will last a lifetime for some runners. Back in June, for the second time in recent years, he included Big Red athletes on a trip to Kenya for Cross World Africa, an organization co-founded by he and his wife, Dr. Michelle Thompson.
This time mid-distance runners seniors William McFall and Andy Arnold were helping provide local youth with educational opportunities as well as a number of other initiatives.
“It’s overwhelming sometimes, but whatever we can do over there is met with such gratitude,” Thompson told Julie Greco in Ezra Magazine. “It doesn’t matter if you’re doing something major or something small, as long as you’re giving back. That’s always been my mission, not only in coaching but in life.”
While Thompson and most of those traveling with him returned to Ithaca, McFall and Arnold stayed behind to participate in a six-week internship with the KenSAP Organization, which helps high school students who have scored high on the Kenya national exam with college preparation. McFall and Arnold assisted 13 students with SAT prep, helped them with the college admission process and served as mentors for another 13 students who had been accepted to colleges in the United States to prepare them for their future in America.
The Kenyan students weren’t the only ones being prepared.