The New Jersey Scholastic Coaches’ Association has named cross-country coach Kurt Wayton the Coach of the Year.
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Wayton has had a long history with the sport of cross country, transforming from an athlete to a coach. “When I graduated college where I ran cross country, I started coaching in South Jersey, and I coached there for four years before moving up here, and going to graduate school. I started at South in the fall of 2005 until present,” Wayton said.
“I’ve been Coach of the Year a number of times. Last year, I was Star-Ledger coach of the year. Before that, I was recognized as a Brooks’ Running Company Inspiring Coach of the Year,” Wayton said.
Wayton credits his years of coaching experience for his myriad of awards. “Fourteen years I’ve been coaching...The thing that educators get each year is experience,” Wayton said.
“The good things that happen this year will go into my bank of knowledge. The bad things that happen this year will go into my bank of knowledge. I think each and every year I hope to get better and learn from these things,” he continued.
For Wayton, running is a passion and coaching is a way of life. “Coaching like managing a boiling pot a water. You always gotta keep it simmering. If you let the flame get too hot, it boils over, everything is ruined. If you get it too low, never cooks up. It requires constant attention,” Wayton said.
However, being a coach does not just require dedication to the sport. A coach must also connect with their players. “[My athletes] are everything. They’re my children. I love these kids, love them like a brother or like a stepson. We have this bond, which is based on trust, mutual honesty and effort. These kids know that I will do anything for them,” Wayton said.
Senior and cross country co-captain Raj Godse, believes that Wayton is reason for the team’s success and national recognition. “We now have one of the largest running programs in the state and we are known nationally. It is an honor to be a part of such a prestigious team that has done incredible things throughout the years,” Godse said.
“Every year, the Pirates get better and improve on last season. Coach Wayton brings the best out of every kid he meets,” he continued.
As the works with the athletes, Wayton improves himself as a coach. “ I’m a better coach this year than I was last year. That’s education. If you have a good teacher or a good coach, they are going to learn along with the students. It’s not a one way street, you all learn together. That’s what growth is about,” Wayton said.
“Wayton will see the potential in every kid that he coaches and over the course of four short years he will help these kids achieve what they never thought was possible. Every single kid on the Cross Country team has a tremendous amount of respect for our coach,” Godse said.
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