Ryun Godfrey Takes the Reins of K-State Cross Country
The son of a long time cross country coach - his father, Vic Godfrey, is now in his 53rd season coaching and has coached teams from the high school level to the collegiate level to the national level - Godfrey has spent his entire life around runners from all walks of life.
"I grew up in Bahrain, my dad was the national track coach there, and then we moved back to the states," explained Godfrey on his journey to K-State. "I then went to New Zealand and lived there before deciding I needed to get a college education. So I moved back and ran and went to school at North Dakota State."
After his collegiate career, Godfrey coached high school cross country and track and field before joining NDSU's cross country program as a graduate assistant.
The best part about being at K-State so far?
"It's great being here this past week because there are so many international students on the team," explained Godfrey. "That makes me feel like home, like growing up because growing up, we were always bumping into people with different accents or people who would asking you, 'how do you pronounce this word.'"
K-State Sports Extra sat down with Godfrey to chat, and here is what he had to say:
Sports Extra: I'm sure coming in during the season has its challenges, but how has it been going with the team since you've been here?
Ryun Godfrey: "They've been really welcoming. I was worried because they just lost a coach that they respect and had a lot of admiration for. So when you're trying to fill big shoes, it can make you pretty anxious, but they have been great. They work hard and they're very disciplined. They have all the things you want and you look for as a coach, so it's made for a really easy transition."
SE: Last week at the Chile Pepper Festival, the women's team placed third. They seem to have a lot of potential. What do you think of this group of women?
RG: "They're led by two experienced seniors in Laura Galvan and Erika Schiller. They're kind of on autopilot right now, and I'm just trying not to get in their way. The chemistry on the team, with both the men and the women, it is really impressive, but it seems to be really tight with the girls. They performed well last weekend, really the first four were a pretty good pack. Our fifth girl is only a freshman [Mady Nestor], so that's a lot of pressure to put on her to try and close that gap, but she's doing a good job as well."
SE: The men's team is fairly young this year. Are you excited for that youth and the opportunity to really coach them throughout their years?
RG: Fernando Roman and Logan (Smith) are the seniors, and it's nice to have those guys and their experience, but it's also exciting to look at the freshmen and the sophomores and all of their potential.
SE: What has been one of the best parts about being at K-State so far?
RG: I've really enjoyed our practices. There are so many great places for a distance runner to train, so every location that they've taken me to - and they've each been a little bit different because we get in a van and head out of town a little - but every location has been a really great place. I can see how people would want to go to school here and train.
SE: As a track and field assistant, you are going to be working closely with Cliff Rovelto. Have you had the opportunity to get to know him yet?
RG: I didn't really know him until a couple of weeks ago. I have always just known of him because his reputation goes beyond the collegiate level - he has a world-wide reputation. So I've always known him. I'd see him at a meet walking by and we'd say 'hey,' but that was really the extent of how I knew him. I've really enjoyed getting to know him the last couple weeks, which started mainly on the phone, but it's been fun to really sit down and talk to him since I have been here.
SE: What have been some of the biggest changes for you coming to K-State after spending so many years at North Dakota State?
RG: "Really, it's the support and the resources that we have here; it's a step up. Also, some of the challenges at North Dakota State were the climate - and it's not like I drove into the tropics here - but the fall here lasts longer and the spring comes earlier. There are those types of things that make it more conducive to training well.
North Dakota State is a great school with hard working, great people. I wouldn't trade my experience there for anything, but it's exciting to be here and have more opportunities.
SE: Every coach is unique in their own way, so how would you describe your coaching style?
RG: One of the things I always try to keep in mind is that I'm not only coaching the athlete but I'm also coaching the person. I believe you can't treat everybody exactly the same, so every day I go into practice and I try and keep in mind that this is not just a person who is going to try and run fast for you, it's a person you have to try and connect with. Having a dad for a coach, I'm very fortunate to have learned that early on. My dad has always been very good with people, and I kind of watched him work and I feel like his style kind of rubbed off on me.
SE: Finally, what are your goals for your time here at K-State?
RG: I just want to continue the tradition. On the men's side, they haven't been as strong as we would like them to be, so that's a priority: to try and build that up, but initially my goal is just to get to know the athletes so they can trust me. That's my initial goal, and then I think when I get a little bit further down the road I can identify what exactly what we are trying to do.
Overall, we just want to keep taking that next step forward. I hope every year we look back and, even though we might feel good about what happened, we're just never quite satisfied. That's just how I'm wired.
So my goal here is to just keep moving forward and see if we can get better and better every year.