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Be Water, My Friend

Mr. Pereira Retires from Coaching Cross-country

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English teacher and cross-country coach Mr. Daniel Pereira announced in January that the 2017 cross-country season was officially his last.

Pereira has dedicated 28 years to cross-country, having competed as an athlete himself for nine years and coached at RHS for the past 19 years, so this decision marks the end of an era– in both Pereira’s life, and in the team’s story.

His decision came after years of deliberation. Striving for a balance between coaching, teaching, and parenting, Pereira first started to consider a change when his two oldest children began to be involved in activities. Pereira has four children, ages 12, 10, 7 and 4.

In order to ensure he was involved with his family like he wanted to be, Pereira began to share the coaching responsibility with Ceramics and Art teacher and coach Mr. Chris Knorzer, who first coached in 1995-1997 and has now returned to coaching both cross-country and distance track for the past seven years.

“Me stepping in was really more of a way for him to spend more time with his family,” said Knorzer. “I kind of took over all of the training initially and then eventually became a co-head coach because I was taking on a greater role each year.”

Pereira hoped that these changes would make it easier for him to both coach and parent, but he continued to notice how much coaching still affected his engagement at home and in the classroom.

“I was thinking about [coaching] all the time when I was with my family or doing other things,” Pereira said. “I wasn’t present with whoever I was supposed to be present with.”

Although recognizing this issue helped Pereira evaluate his priorities and goals, he stands by the time and energy he put into coaching.

“I was still putting in a ton of time– as I should,” he said. “You know, when you do anything, you’re going to do it 100 percent. And so I just realized it was my time.”

Pereira sent an email to the cross-country athletes and families to inform them of his decision.

“This program has been a second family to me, and I will never be able to thank you enough for all your support and hard work,” he wrote to them.

“I poured my heart and soul into this program,” he continued. “How could I not with the dedication I received from my athletes and the support I received from parents[?]”

He feels confident about the decision, but knows that he will miss cross-country.

“I’ll miss interacting with students in a different way, you know other than just the classroom,” Pereira said. “I will miss the rush that I get cheering… I’m going to miss the competition and the cheering and inspiring.”

Inspiring athletes has taken many forms over the years, one way being through beloved traditions. One of Pereira’s favorite parts of cross-country has been the annual trip to Camp Winthers.

“I’m going to always remember Camp Winthers,” Pereira said. “I have so many memories.”

For Junior Shane Burton, some of his favorite memories were formed in Pereira’s classroom on days preceding important meets when Pereira would gather the athletes to review meet information and to watch motivational videos. A favorite video Pereira played every year was Bruce Lee’s “Be Water My Friend,” wherein Lee describes the strength in adaptability.

“That was a memorable moment with Pereira,” Shane said.

These memorable moments have created strong relationships on the cross-country team.

“Some of the best memories are just some of the relationships that I’ve built that have now gone beyond high school,” Pereira said.

Athletes, like Junior Brendan Dowling, will miss having Pereira as a coach.

“I always knew he cared about us a ton, both as runners and as people,” Junior Brendan Dowling said. “He [has been] a great leader and role model for the cross-country team.”

Senior Marie Navarro agrees.

“[Cross-country] reminds me of a dogpile, and Pereira is the one person who others jump on,” Navarro said. “We all follow his lead even if it is going to involve a lot of sweat.”

Though Pereira will miss the time he spent coaching, he is quick to welcome this new phase for the team, quick to encourage adaptability and growth through change.

“I hope for change,” he said. “Even since I’ve been involved with the program, it’s changed and it’s been for the better. So I hope for continued change… [Coach Knorzer] will bring in new things, and I am excited for what a new perspective will bring.”

Knorzer anticipates continued strength in the cross-country program.

“The roots are really strong,” Knorzer said. “People can steal the fruit but you have the roots…

so the future’s looking really good.”

As the program evolves, there is one characteristic that Pereira hopes the team will hold onto.

“I hope that family feel continues,” he said. “More so than us being competitive, than girls making it to State and continuing that, I hope that that family feel continues, [and] that anybody who joins the program, and also that leaves it, feels like there was something, that they benefited from it.”

As preseason cross-country begins, the cross-country family says goodbye to a well-respected coach and assures him that they have.

“Cross country has given me the opportunity to challenge myself athletically while becoming great friends with some amazing people and making unforgettable memories,” Sophomore Jessica Bullock said.

“Cross-country just was a super great experience… and Pereira has definitely been an integral part of that experience,” Senior Emma Silva added. “He’s really been the one that’s always there to support you and try to help you be you best that you can be. He’s really awesome, and it’s sad to see him go.”

 

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