Cross+country+coach+Jim+Lebo+Instructs+his+runners+at+the+start+of+practice.+Photograph+Courtesy+of+Richard+Harper

Cross country coach Jim Lebo Instructs his runners at the start of practice. Photograph Courtesy of Richard Harper

Lebo Teaches, Coaches his Last Year

October 12, 2022

It is 2:45 p.m. on the dot.
He shuts down his computer and laces his sneakers up.
As he shifts gears from computer teacher to coach, Jim Lebo is ready for another day of training young runners to reach their full potential.

Jim Lebo plans to retire from teaching computer class after he finishes this school year. However, it isn’t just teaching that Lebo is retiring from, but coaching cross country and track as well.

Lebo has been coaching varsity cross country and varsity track and field for about seven years, earning a prominent reputation by doing so in quite a unique manner, according to junior Robert Rosul.

“I’ve known Coach Lebo since seventh grade, so four years,” Rosul, a cross country and track and field athlete, said. “Yes, he’s a very tough coach, but it’s the only way to improve. One of the toughest workouts we had to do this year was [running] 12 400-meters.”

Upperclassman runners (left to right) Izzy Voss, Michael Snyder, and Andrew Hetzer listen to instructions from Coach Lebo. Photograph Courtesy of Richard Harper

Rosul was referring to the 400-meter dash, completed 12 times in a row. The 400-meter dash is one lap around a track, which is about a quarter mile. A good time requires consistent speed as well as high endurance, and it only becomes more challenging as each lap is completed. Lebo is known to challenge his runners, giving tough but fair goal times for the runners to consistently meet throughout their speed workouts.

Certain strategies have earned the coach compliments from others; this includes praise from athletic director Brad Keeney.

“We’ve always had some pretty strong runners, and he’s built it into one of the pinnacle programs in the state,” Keeney said.

“We’ve gone to states every year,” Lebo said. “The first two years, it was individuals, and then we took the first boys team ever to states four years ago, and then we had individuals, and then last year, we took the boys team again.”

About 19 teams in the AA division went to cross country states last year, and a large number of individual runners qualified as well.

“I think there were like 240 runners in the race, and [senior runner] Matt [O’Brien] got 4th,” Lebo said.

Lebo is known as being greatly invested in his coaching career. Having strong runners is important, but Keeney implies the most important factor is the coach’s stake in the program.
“Coach Lebo cares deeply about the kids, and you can’t miss it. …,” Keeney said. “He builds that trust with the kids. He’s very knowledgeable on how to train the kids, you can’t miss it.”

Lebo plans to get some  rest after a long career, already having set his sights on the next objective.

“[I’m] retiring, and then moving to North Carolina: Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina,” Lebo said.

 

Lebo and assistant coach Jill Steines decide how far certain runners will go before sending them out. Photograph Courtesy of Richard Harper

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    Richard HarperDec 7, 2022 at 11:41 am

    I know I didn’t have him as a coach for cross country because of circumstances of me not being able to join, but in track season, I will. So I will miss him when he leaves; he was also a great computer teacher.

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