It was a simple request …
“If you have a passion to share with kids – we are looking for instructors to teach after-school enrichment programs.”
Well, parent Becky Aaronson’s response to this email inquiry for new creative energies was about to set Roosevelt Elementary School, on a new course, so to speak.
“The idea of a running club came out of the blue,” Aaronson said. “But that simple request sparked something inside me — I then wanted to create a really special running program for the Roosevelt kids.”
Typical Weekly Practice
- Word of the Week/Runner of the Week
- Main workout
- Cool down
- Motivational speaker
- Healthy snack
- Prizes & weekly mileage acknowledgements
And she was off to a fast start!
With Coach Becky — as she is known on this Santa Barbara upper eastside campus — leading the charge, the Roosevelt Running Club launched in the fall of 2012 with 17 young aspiring athletes (in Grades 3 through 6) eager for training.
Now several seasons … 3,000 miles … and nearly 100 young participants later … Aaronson is named Presidio Sports’ latest Sports Figure of the Month for her passion in designing and delivering this creatively customized model of encouraging healthy lifestyle choices — blending exercise, nutrition, motivation & inspiration — for local kids.
“Becky is a wonderful example of someone bringing her expertise to our kids. She gives freely of her time and her talents.” shares Donna Ronzone, Ph.D., now in her tenth year as Roosevelt’s principal.
This spotlight award arrives on the heels of the 33rd Annual Rose Run (March 18) — the jog-a-thon fundraiser that financially fuels campus programs ($128K raised in 2013) via the Roosevelt Elementary School Foundation (REEF).
For Roosevelt Running Club members, it’s a showcase event for newfound running skills, but the Club, itself, strives to offer much, much more than transforming runners into peak performers, per its informational flyer …
The Roosevelt Running Club is all about celebrating fun and fitness and what makes us strong and unique. We will be inviting top athletes in our community to give motivational talks throughout the season and share their life experiences with the team. Our goal is to get the kids fired up about setting goals, dreaming big and harnessing their “inner amazing-ness.”
This eight week after-school program is offered twice yearly: in the fall and, again, in the spring.
Current session is April 2 through May 31 and the team goal, as always, is for each runner to complete a full marathon over the course of the season.
“This ‘marathon’ is challenging, yet doable,” says Coach Becky. “Eight of the miles will be done in practice. The remaining 18.2 miles are to be completed during family/friend time, P.E. or recess. Running buddies (friends, siblings, parents) are encouraged.”
She easily shares credit for the Club’s success with others – like husband and co-coach, Jeffrey, and their daughter Olivia, who is already in her fourth season.
Plus special people like Mindy Wolfe, Jen Mansbach, Stella Pynn, Jen Brown and Kent Mixon (a parent with twin girls who always brings fun energy), along with Jane Bartholomew, Vanessa Willett, Monica DeVreese, Rusty Snow, Lindsay Schwartz, Amanda George, Liz Groom, Len Miller, and Andrea McClarty — they’re coaches, runners, motivational presenters and parent volunteers who further enrich this enrichment program.
“Becky Aaronson has a vision of every child’s great potential and shares her passion for fitness, goal setting and inspiration through the Roosevelt Running Club,” says Wolfe. “She includes an adult speaker each week to inspire her runners by sharing their particular story of goal setting, practice, striving and accomplishment. She has had all types of athletes speak from the Roosevelt parent who does the local triathlon to Olympic hopefuls who have persevered their entire career to reach their goals.”
And Coach Becky likes to sprinkle in fun incentives along the way — none bigger than the small plastic feet tokens — one for each mile recorded on the mileage chart.
“They make great awareness necklaces,” she adds with a smile. “The kids wear these with pride around campus and it often promotes interest in other students.”
The Magic Mile Fun Run culminates their season on May 21.
Safe to say that Coach Becky has truly found her niche — savoring the benefits of her early roots — growing up in Portland, Oregon with three older brothers who pushed her in new directions.
“All throughout my life, running has been at the center of the activities that I’ve enjoyed the most,” she states.
Now, in addition to her own training and her Roosevelt Running Club, she also coaches two other local youth running clubs: Santa Barbara Kids Corner Coyotes and Girls in Motion. She has also just joined forces with Girls, Inc. to help coach their new Summer Triathlon program.
“There are lots of people who can run … there are lots of people who can coach … and there are people who are good with kids,” says Jen Brown, REEF’s 2014 Rose Run co-chair. “But Becky has it all. She has the unique ability to make it fun for all levels of runners.”
And for Coach Becky, it’s also about “giving back” – a powerful lesson learned at age 12 while handing out water bottles in the rain with her team to participating runners in the Trails End Marathon in Seaside, Oregon.
With the blossoming of her own running skills years later in 1998 and her first New York Marathon — she’s paced her philanthropy stride-for-stride in running with passion and purpose …
She’s raised over $70,000 for special causes, to date — including cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in memory of numerous friends and relatives, including both her parents who died of cancer at early ages.
And Coach Becky is also a seasoned writer in real life, with many works in progress and even a running blog.
Yes, our newest Sports Figure of the Month serves as a role model for her passionate commitment to the sport of running and for planting early seeds of healthy habits that will have life-long impact with this next generation of student-athletes.
And with their entire life (and Rose Run) before them, there’s really only one thing left to say to these young stars:
On your mark….
SPORTS FIGURE OF THE MONTH
Each Month, Presidio Sports recognizes a local sports figure for their extraordinary contribution to the Santa Barbara athletic community. It is our way to recognize those who are making a lasting impact in our sports community, whether it is an inspirational athletic performance, a lifetime achievement award, or perhaps a great example of leadership.