Getting to Know Cross Country Coach Jason Gabathuler

Amanda ColeSaints Blog

Tell us a little bit about yourself

For 17 years I have worked for the City of Springfield for 17 years helping design buildings. I still enjoy it because you don’t know what each day is going to bring.  I have an awesome wife who works at SLS in the morning Extended Care, and we have two great kids attending SLS. I love movies from sci-fi to a good underdog story, and keeping my mind active with designing things from buildings, to logos, to Halloween costumes ideas.  Also, I like to sit down and read when there is time.

Did you compete in running when you were in school?

I have been running for 30 plus years. I ran a lot in grade school and ran competitively in high school in cross country and track all four years.  In college, running was just for fun and to keep in shape.  One day I was looking to challenge myself and compete, so I did a 10K.  From then on, I kept pushing myself to do better. I have done full and half marathons, triathlons, 5Ks, and 10Ks.

What sports have you coached over the years?

I helped coach my sister’s basketball team in high school.  In college I coached an ultimate frisbee team for one year.  I have been coaching Cross Country and Track for SLS for 5 years.

Tell us about your experiences as a coach.

You come in with a plan, you (try to) execute the plan, knowing that the plan won’t go as smoothly as you want.  It has helped me be more patient and learn that you have to be flexible with how you coach.

What do you enjoy about coaching?

I love seeing that moment when the kids “get it.”  I love when they start asking more questions about how to improve.  I love that when they are having a good day or bad day they keep the spirit of the sport with good sportsmanship.

What do you wish people knew about being a coach?

It seems hard, and at times it is.  You come up with a game plan that you think will best suit the runners for the season. You hope that you don’t push them too much, but push them enough so they find out the power that God has given them.  There might be setbacks, but try to remain positive and stick to the plan. Coaches push all runners to be better. When kids put in effort, the rewards are seeing them improve, thanking you and coming back for more the next day.   

Describe what an effective athlete is to you.

Good question.  I believe an effective athlete is one who comes into the season with an open mind, ready to work hard and get out of their comfort zone.  They know that God has given them this opportunity to push themselves and to grow as an individual.  They listen to instructions and execute the workout to the best of their abilities. They skate a fine line of body and mind, to push outside their comfort zone to find out when the body says “Slow down, this is starting hurt,” and saying “Maybe next time you can do better.”  Don’t be afraid to fail, but don’t be afraid to try and succeed, learning something about yourself.  Take opportunities that are laid out before you and use them to grow into the person God wants you to be – knowing when you finish a workout or race that you have done your best, left it all on the field, and learning from the good and bad of the experiences.  Stay positive, be ready to grow, and get better. 

How do you integrate the Christian faith into athletics?

God has given us a body that can endure more than we think.  Don’t think of your body just as this mass of flesh, but has an empty arsenal that God has given you to fill.  You add to your arsenal when you win or lose, when you succeed or fail.  Just like life, you will win and sometimes lose but you know what is in your arsenal because it is a learned lesson to make you stronger. God has given you this opportunity that will help you grow, and may be used down the road of life.  It might be used in a big way or little way, but God wants you know that the things you learn on your path through life is not for nothing but for a purpose.  Have a little faith in yourself and God’s plan for you.   

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about Cross Country at SLS?

Cross Country is a team sport, but also an individual sport, where you can work as a team and individual.  You get to know the people you are working out with.  You run for miles with these people and what are you going to do, be silent?  During these times you get to know your teammates on another level where you start to lean on each other to get through these crazy workouts that we do.  This is also is a sport that will not just push you physically but more mentally that will show what God has given you.  Life isn’t always easy and there will be obstacles on your path but the things you learn here at school and in practice will make you ready for the hard times.  You might even learn a little about yourself and might even find enjoyment in running.