In this edition of Reed Between the Lines: Grafton Lady Bearcats Track Coach Becky Lake
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Grafton. I graduated from GHS in 1987 where I participated in track, cheerleading, and Entertainers. I have two daughters, Josie and Kelly, who currently attend Grafton High School. I married Rick Lake in 2015 and have two stepsons, Zack and Logan.
When and why did you start coaching track?
I helped with the high school track team in 1989 under the direction of Rich Bord. When attending the state meet that year as a volunteer coach, I ran into my college coach, Dennis Brachna, who offered me a position as a graduate assistant with the Marshall track team, which I immediately accepted. Through that experience, I learned many things about the various track events as well as financed graduate school.
What do you say to people who don’t understand the sport of track and field?
Track and Field is very complex. The misconception that track and field is simply running in circles is inaccurate. A track meet consists of 19 different events, with 8 of those being field events. Running occurs yes, but it is technique and attention to the details that determine the success of an athlete and team.
What is the most bizarre question you have ever been asked by someone about track?
“Why would you want to run when you don’t have to?”
What is one rule change that you’d most like to see happen within your sport?
I’d like more meets to be offered with the availability to enter more than one relay from each school, or even more per individual event. At our home meets, we do this because it allows more athletes the chance to participate.
What are your best and worst memories in athletics?
Wow! Not sure where to start with this one. Track has given me many great memories. Obviously, my best memory was when our team won states my senior year. My sister, Molly, and my best friends were on this team with me so that made it all the sweeter. Molly even ran on our winning 4 x 400 relay with me which sealed the deal. As a coach, it’s seeing the faces of my high school athletes when they realize they have qualified for states.
My worst would be at Doddridge County. I had never been beat in the 200 my senior year up to that meet. Josie Marshall, a spunky runner from Washington Irving, was always my toughest competitor. For a reason unbeknownst to me, I pulled up halfway down the 100 straight away and she passed me, winning the event. I was crushed, but it only inspired me to work harder so it wouldn’t happen again.
If you could be a successful coach in any other sport, what would you choose and why?
Probably cheerleading (and it is a sport by the way). I was my daughters’ cheerleading coach when they were little (Pop Warner level). We won districts that year. It was a lot of fun because there wasn’t so much pressure, but victory is sweet at any level.
What one word or phrase do you think describes you?
What is your favorite movie about sports?
Definitely “The Blind Side”! No question!
What should we expect out of the GHS girls’ track team this season?
Always expect enthusiasm, smiles, and hard work. We have a lot of returning talent and last year the girls were setting their own PR’s and crushing them each meet! With only three seniors leaving us this year and several talented freshmen coming on board, I think we’re going to be pretty impressive!
What is the toughest event to enter and do well in? Why?
I can only answer this based on my personal experience, but I’d have to say the 400m and 800m. If you’re a sprinter, you’re fast. If you’re a distance runner, you can run forever. That’s just how it is. These mid-distance runners must be both. You can pace an 800 a little, but for the most part, these are a long, full-out sprints. These are the races you must run with your heart.
What is one thing you always do after your team wins a meet or has a solid showing?
We celebrate of course. We are girls, so we hug, we laugh, and we set those goals for the next meet.
You get to spend the day with anyone (past or present), who do you choose and why?
I’d choose to spend a day with my mom, but in the past. My mom is still with us, but I’d like to go back in time and spend a day reminiscing about the good old days. My mom is and will always be the biggest influence in my life. She and my father have lived their lives selflessly and have always loved unconditionally. Mom loved the youth in Grafton and spent her days contributing to their success, rather it be in the classroom or by coaching.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
With my girls’ graduation days quickly approaching, this is a hard one to think about. It’s a pretty teary year for me. In 10 years, I hope to be still involved in some capacity with coaching. I also am hoping my husband’s work schedule can slow down some and we can start to travel. There are so many places still on my bucket list to visit.
What do you think you do well as a coach?
I think I’m a good encourager. I think I’m approachable and honest. I think the girls know that everything I do is always in their best interest. I also think I’m pretty good at keeping it fun.
What do you think you need to work on as a coach?
Coaching is always a learning experience. I’m first to admit that I don’t know everything. I would like to become more knowledgeable in the events that I have never participated in, as well as recruit experts to help with the team to ensure the best possible results.
Where is your favorite away venue to coach and why?
We ran a couple meets this past year at the new Mylan facility in Morgantown. Wow, what a state-of-the-art track! Other than that, there’s nothing quite like running at McKinney Field in front of our families and friends. Grafton’s venue will always be my favorite.
Give me the name of one athlete on your team that will surprise people this season.
I honestly can’t do that. I have lots of athletes putting in the work during the off-season this year. Our Grafton girls are taking on the area strength training gyms as well as our local fitness center. I’m excited about our senior leadership this upcoming season. These girls are team players and will be great motivators for our younger athletes.
What makes the best track teams in the state great?
That’s easy! Work, work and more work. The best athletes don’t just show up the first day of season and without prior work expect to be champions. Season is for perfecting your event. The best teams are constantly in a state of preparing.
What did you think of these questions?
I enjoyed answering these questions! They have gotten me excited about the upcoming season. It’s definitely going to be a great one! Stay tuned!
*Each week the Mountain Statesman features a coach, player or personality from Taylor County. We hope you enjoy the chance to learn a little bit more about them.