Blase Leverett wins region 4-4A cross-country coach of the year for the second consecutive season

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023

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Blase Leverett has reenergized the cross-country program at LaGrange High. A fringe sport that rarely gets proper attention did not dissuade Leverett from taking the head coaching position a couple of years ago. Leverett, who just wrapped his second season as coach, is reaping the benefits of his beliefs and hard work, earning his second straight region 4-4A coach of the year award.

“It just felt validating, it felt meaningful, it felt like it was all worth it, you know,” Leverett said. “And honestly, that kind of honor isn’t something that you strive for, but it’s now something I take pride in. I take pride in being intentional, being serious about bringing out the best in these kids.”

One of Leverett’s goals when taking over was to get the sport more exposure throughout the school and area. He has done just that as students see the success his teams have and want to be a part of them.

“Kids see the success that we had this season and want to be a part of it,” Leverett said. “We should have enough girls next season for a JV team too.”

Leverett is very much a “player’s coach.” Even though he cannot keep up with the majority of his athletes, he still laces up his running shoes and joins them at practice.

“I think if they see that we’re willing to do the work to that they can as well,” Leverett said. “Also, it’s hard to keep a kid accountable if you don’t have eyes on them. Right?”

Ask just about any member of his teams and they will tell you it is one of his defining characteristics as a coach.

“He is very entertaining and energetic,” freshman Kalynne Pressler said earlier this season. “He can really relate to a lot of the problems we face out there because he runs with us as well.”

Leverett has been around coaching for years, having served as a coach for lacrosse and football.

This is just his second season leading a cross-country team.

“This is my second head coaching gig,” Leverett said. “I was a linebackers coach for football and assistant coach for lacrosse, but this is my second head coaching gig.

“I really enjoy it. We have great parental support and just the attitude of these kids, I don’t have to worry about their behavior.”

The athletes are what it is all about for Leverett. Seeing the progress they make during the course of a season/career is better than any award he could receive.

“I think of the kid who I nominated for region runner of the year, he shed 12 minutes off of his first time where he was like 38-something minutes,” Leverett said. “Then his last race was like 25 or 26 minutes. It was just an insane amount of time he shaved off watching a kid PR and then seeing them cross the finish line and they’re looking at the clock as they’re like ‘Coach did I just PR?’ Those moments I appreciate because they feel validated in that you can see the self-belief grow and the self-confidence grow in a young athlete.”

Leverett hit the ground running with the program and has not stopped since. Even though the 2023 season wrapped less than a week ago, he is already plotting out the next season for the program.

“We’re right back at the drawing board, we’re already looking forward to next year,” Leverett said. “We’re making adjustments based on what worked this year and what didn’t work this year that we think can tweak to make it better next year.”