Southside HS, TX
"People told me I was doing more harm than good, but I told the team - behind closed doors - that we were going to learn what it meant to be successful," said Juan Castanon about overcoming an attitude of defeat at this school.
Juan knew it wouldn't be easy but he knew it was right; he was determined to create a program the community could be proud of.
"When I first took over the program it was way below a standard program...they went to small meets and there wasn't much motivation to succeed. I started setting goals and the athletes responded. I exposed them to the highest level. This year we won district and qualified for State for the first time in school history. No sports at our school go to State, but now XC does."
He was inspired to coach after a powerful life lesson imparted to him but none-other than his high school coach.
"My girlfriend of five years passed away in college. I dropped out. My high school coach got me back to running and in school and really changed my life. I wanted to be able to have that positive impact on other peoples' lives. I see the kids who really want to run and it hurts me to see them not able to afford good running shoes. So I give shoes away...they need it. For me it's just another pair of shoes, for them it's an opportunity to run."
Coach Castanon's generosity and determination have changed a mediocre, lackluster running program, into the best sports team in the high school and the admiration of an entire community.