2017 girls' cross-country Coach of the Year: Kara Leaman

2017 girls' cross-country Coach of the Year: Kara Leaman

Coach of the Year:

Kara Leaman, Unity

Why she's coach of the year: For the second time in three seasons, Leaman coached the Rockets to a Class 1A state championship, edging out St. Joseph-Ogden by two points. Maybe even more impressively, the Rockets topped the Spartans in the 1A St. Thomas More Regional led by two freshmen and without top runner Jordan Harmon, who was out with an injury.

Season Highlights: "Beginning the season with four invite wins fueled the fire and goal of a state championship for the team. We had about 10 girls who were also competing against each other for seven varsity spots, so practice was sometimes just as fun to watch as the races. The way the girls worked together amidst the competition they felt with each other was extraordinary."

A few of my favorites ...

Moment of the season: There's nothing like the first news that you won a state championship. I was made aware of the news online and held it secret from the team for about 30 minutes while they waited for it to be posted on site — that was a long half hour. ... Dessert: Mint chocolate chip ice cream. ... Pro sports team: Chicago Cubs. ... Way to spend my free time: You would find me reading.

Three things on my bucket list: There is a half marathon in Yellowstone National Park I want to do because it is my favorite place in the U.S. I want to go hiking in Glacier National Park with my husband. I hope to run my last marathon someday with my daughter by my side.

If I could have dinner with any three people from any time period, I would choose ... Plato, Jesus and Isaac Newton. I'd just listen.

What I enjoy most about coaching: "The relationships that are formed in this sport are lifetime friendships. It is very rewarding when former athletes reach out to you to share their fond memories of high school years and very cool to hear of their accomplishments as adult runners. I love to watch the relationships form between the girls on the team and am always in my happy place on a Saturday morning in October waiting to watch a race. The love for competing against yourself and others never gets old. Whatever capacity I have to pass that love on to others is worth all the time and commitment I can give."