The best coaches are not simply taskmasters, but they do have some common traits—
- First, they must be experts on running physiology, yet must also be willing to learn more.
- They must inspire and be good motivators for runners of varying abilities. They must be good listeners, and effective communicators.
- They must be disciplined but flexible.
- Finally, they must set a good example and display the commitment and discipline essential for a runner to reach their goals and potential.
A coach who has all of these traits and one more-- humility-- is Bill Moreland the track and cross country coach of Ocean City, New Jersey High School. Moreland lives in Ocean City with his wife Debbie. They have been married for 35 years. Bill and Debbie have 3 children (all runners of course!) daughters Colsey (who graduated from and ran for TCNJ), Allie (a senior, running for the Naval Academy) and Bill (who will attend Rowan to study Mechanical Engineering and may run track in the spring).
The first thing that strikes you about Coach Moreland is his ability to inspire all of his runners from senior Brett Johnson the fastest (4:08) high school miler in the country, fifth fastest in New Jersey history, to the novices with no running experience that join the Ocean City team each year and quickly become hooked on the sport. Coach Moreland makes running fun. He is also an outstanding runner who leads by example. We recently caught up with Coach Moreland for his thoughts on a variety of subjects including his personal running streak:
I’ve been running seriously for 34 years, I ran sporadically before that.
How did you start your running career?
I started running to get back into shape. I had put on a few pounds after getting married (went from 150 to 160 pounds).
Where did you go to high school, college?
I went to Abington High School in Abington PA, Elizabethtown College in PA and grad school at the University of Delaware.
What is your favorite race?
Probably the Fenton Carey Half Marathon in Ocean City.
What is your favorite place to run?
The beach at dawn or a run through the woods.
How long is your running streak—when did it start and how far do you usually run?
It’s over 26 years. I started on January 15, 1982. I average just over 9 miles per day.
Where have you run the most during your streak?
Before we moved back to Ocean City (four years ago) the trails in Upper Township, now on the beach in Ocean City.
Were there any close calls for the streak?
Yes, the closest was when my oldest daughter Colsey was born. I ran about 11 pm.
Some minor injuries have limited the distance to only 2 miles which is the shortest I’ve run.
How many years have you been a teacher?
I’ve taught mathematics for 38 years. The last 18 years I’ve taught AP Calculus and Honors Precalculus.
How long have you been coaching? (boys/girls):
I’ve been coaching for 38 years. For the first 9 years of teaching I coached basketball and the last 29 years cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
What are some of your coaching accomplishments?
10 Cape Atlantic League Championships in Cross-Country, 2 South Jersey Group III Championships in Cross Country. 1 South Jersey Group III Championships in track and a Girls Distance Medley Relay national championship team.
Who are some of the best runners you’ve coached?
Brett Johnson, John Fennekohl (both were South Jersey runners of the year).
Matt Cowhey, John Richardson (won Penn Relays mile and the only NJ male to win 1600 meters and 800 meters at New Jersey Meet of Champions).
Erik Geisinger, Eugene Watts, Rich Vinnacombe, Dan Lowden (1st male to make all Cape Atlantic conference 4 years), Bruce and Jeff Welch, Brian McDonald.
Brittany Sedberry, Rene Tomlin, Allie Moreland, Erin Walsh (these 4 girls won national championship).
What is your running philosophy:
Run but don’t strain.
What is your coaching philosophy?
I have always felt my teams were healthier if we under trained rather than over trained.
Our seniors get to about 50 miles a week coming into their senior year. Four healthy years in high school will be more productive for them when they reach the next level.
Can you tell us about your race directing, some of the races you put on?
We put on fun runs every Thursday night in the summer in Ocean City. This is the 30th year and there are 5k cross country and 1600m and 3200m track races each week. (Note, the races are free). Also the Firefighters Memorial 5k in Sea Isle City (this will be the 35th year) and the Longport Bridge 5k which is a fund raiser for the Cross Country and Track programs. (Bill Moreland also put on the popular Hot Foot half marathon and 5k races in Upper Township for years).
What are your recommendations for avoiding injury?
Too much fast running leads to break downs. Change surfaces when you can and alternate your running shoes.
What are some of your other hobbies/interests?
My mustangs (cars). I just got an 08 Shelby.
It has been said the most valuable gift you can give is your time. Coach Bill Moreland has generously given his time and talents back to running. The sport is better for his efforts. All who have ran for and with him, or in one of his races are extremely grateful for his generosity.