Name: Craig Rupe
Current Position: Head Coach at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy
Past Positions: Assistant Coach at Field Middle School
Coaching Accomplishments: Coached former Ohio prep state record holder Ryan Adams (1:51 800m, 4:07 1600m) and 2 State Championship 4x800m relays.
Education: BS in Seconondary Education, Integrated Science from the University of Akron.
Athletic: Part of 2 State Championship cross-country teams in high school. Holds PR’s of 4:13 (mile), 14:51 (5k), 24:56 (8k) and 1:09 (half marathon).
1. How did you know you wanted to get into coaching?
When I was in high school my dad was my coach and I always thought what he did was something I wanted to do too. I always have really connected with high school-aged athletes for some reason and I feel like I can connect with them in a way a lot of other adults struggle with.
Also, I feel like the high school age is a very formative part in the lives of young adults so I feel like it’s a privilege in a way to be able to help them grow in a pivotal time of their development as people.
2. How did you get connected with your first coaching gig?
My first coaching gig was actually when I was student teaching during my last year at the University of Akron. I was actually competing that semester but I broke both of my arms during a steeplechase at Stanford and that ended my final season. Instead of sulking, I decided to help out coaching at Field Middle School, which is where I was student teaching at the time.
I completely forced myself to transition from a college athlete to an adult in the matter of a week which completely forced myself to shift my priorities and goals. Instead of becoming depressed about my college career ending, I instead found a love for coaching that was unexpected. This proved to me that I was called to a career in coaching. This led me to my first real job at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) and I stared coaching high school cross-country and track there.
3. What was it like to be a Head Coach for a High School?
It’s an incredibly rewarding experience. So many teenagers find who they are as people in athletics and I feel so honored to be able to mentor them in some way during this time period. Teenagers are always looking for people to look up to and they especially resonate with coaches because they associate with them in athletics which is something they love.
Wins or losses aside, being able to see growth in student-athletes is so rewarding and it’s something that I look forward to every season. While it is stressful at times, I know that it is a labor of love and that the guys on my team and myself truly love and appreciate each other.
4. What is one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring coaches?
The number one piece of advice I’d give to aspiring coaches is to be flexible. I understand that every coach has a plan and program that they subscribe to, but they are going to encounter so many different types of athletes that require so many different variations of training programs. You need to be able to adjust plans based on an athlete’s ability or strengths/weaknesses, or even their fitness level.
If you are rigid in your training plan then you’re going to get frustrated athletes who end up having mental issues because they end up second-guessing themselves and your training as a coach. Being flexible shows you’re willing to work with athletes which usually gains a higher level of respect.