By TED SILLANPAA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Delaney White didn’t choose long distance running; it chose her.
“My parents threw me into all kinds of different sports when I was young,” said White, a sophomore at Santa Rosa High School. “I just didn’t really like them. There wasn’t anything I was really good at. Then, my mom heard about a program called ‘Girls On the Run,’ and said, ‘Let’s try it!’ So, I started running and it was something I really liked … something I could do.”
White will try today to defend the league title she won as a freshman today at the NBL Championships at Spring Lake Park.
She remembers when her first coach Shelley Main encouraged her to move up to run for the Santa Rosa Express youth program.
“I was 10 years old and qualified for the national meet,” White recalled. “I thought, ‘Hey, I can actually do this. I’m pretty OK at running.’ I had friends who played for good soccer teams and in other sports and I finally felt like I had a sport myself. I really liked the challenge to push myself every day.”
Bob Shor, a Santa Rosa Express coach, encouraged the White family to get Delaney into regional meets. From there, her career took off. She started looking forward to high school.
“My mom would show me the newspaper and I’d read about top runners in high school and see the times they ran,” White said.
“I wished that I could be there, in high school and part of a team, running someday.”
White has been pushing herself this season after bursting onto the high school scene. She runs 35-45 miles each week.
“I’ve worked hard all season,” she said.
“There’s pressure after how last season turned out. I’m just not comparing this season to what I did last year. Every season is different. Every race is different. There’s internal pressure I put on myself, but there is a good spirited target on my back, too. Other runners want to be beat me.”
White didn’t plan for immediate glory in high school.
“In the summer before my freshman year, I was mentally prepared to be fifth on the team,” she said. “I knew it was going to be really hard. It was a huge surprise that I had that really good season.”
She’s a 5-foot-5, 100-pounder.
“I can’t say for sure what my strength is,” she said. “I have a lot of heart, but I know other runners have heart, too. My coaches push me, but I’m naturally competitive and I set goals. That’s what makes me better. I run on Saturdays with the top junior varsity boys, so I push myself. I have to run really hard to keep up because they’re really fast.”
White’s quick to point out that she needs her coaches to help her prepare emotionally for races.
Head coach Doug Courtemarche and assistant Carrie Joseph have guided her early in her career at Santa Rosa.
“I don’t have a lot of self-confidence,” White said. “I’ve always needed a coach to help me be mentally psyched up to race. I need them to help me mentally prepare and Carrie has been great about that.”
White acknowledges that with the postseason comes a new approach to each race.
“Normally I go into a race just thinking about running a time,” she said.
“But now, we start looking at (qualifying) for state. I didn’t do that last year. (Spring Lake Park) is a course I like. I don’t have to change anything. I’m excited to run it on Friday.”
You can reach Ted Sillanpaa at firstname.lastname@example.org.