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Sports Backers Blog

Kids Run RVA Profiles: Coach Abby Harsh

By: Chaz Coleman, Kids Run RVA Program Manager


Abby Harsh is the new run club head coach at Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School (AJCES) but she is not new to Kids Run RVA, having previously worked with the run club at Albert Hill Middle School. Her reason for volunteering at Albert Hill was “because I enjoy running, connecting with my students, and the challenge of completing the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k with my students.” These same motivations are what compelled Harsh, who teaches math at AJCES, to reach out to Faith Hecht at Sports Backers and inquire about getting a run club started at the school this spring. “I wanted to teach my new students about long-distance running and experience the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k if they haven’t experienced it before,” Harsh explained. Harsh says there is a bit of a learning curve as most students play other sports and many have not had long-distance running experience but she is up for the task and looks forward to unlocking hidden talents of her students.

AJCEs Run Club Members

AJCES Run Club Members

AJCES is an independent, faith-based school providing full-tuition scholarships to 4th – 8th grade students of limited economic resources primarily from Richmond’s East End. Located in Church Hill, they serve families in Mosby, Creighton, Whitcomb, and Fairfield Court. Their mission is to provide students with the tools necessary to help ensure they have the opportunity for a full and meaningful life by providing education and a sense of community. Having a run club provides an opportunity for Harsh and her fellow staff members to create that sense of community. After only eight practices, the students were running up to three miles in Chimborazo Park before being halted by school closures due to the coronavirus. It is safe to say that Harsh, along with the rest of her coaching staff, are providing a nurturing environment where their students can thrive. Read the rest of the interview below:

Chaz Coleman: What are some traits that define you?

Abby Harsh: I would say energetic, helpful, and harmonious are some traits!

CC: If you had time, what is something new you would learn?

AH: I really enjoy cooking and baking. If I have time, I like to find a new recipe and bake it. I could also be experimenting in the kitchen as well.

CC: Since you talked about food, what is a food you wish had zero calories?

AH: I am from New Jersey, so I always love a good New York-style cheese pizza!

CC: Would you rather be a cat or a dog?

AH: Dog.

CC: What advice do you have for kids struggling in school/rub club?

AH: My advice would be to try their best but then each day try to improve by a little bit. They should also celebrate when they improve. I would also encourage a student to find something that they really enjoy and use that to make learning FUN!

CC: If you could write a self-help book, what would the topic be?

AH: I think this is implacable since I’m from New Jersey, but it would be the proper way to drive in every state.

AJCES Run Club

AJCES Run Club

CC: How do you define success?

AH: I will relate it to what I said earlier when someone is struggling. Success is when you feel like you have improved on something. Whether it is completing a goal or improving a goal, success is anytime you can celebrate an improvement.