As a coach, Geoffrey Owers hoped to inspire his Mountain Pointe athletes.
Instead, they inspired him.
Motivated by memories of Pride girls cross country teams from 2000 through January 2007, Owers has written a 351-page book about those seasons called, Their Effort Was Like Toothpaste: A Story of Trophies Won and Life Changed.
“In a way I wanted to give back to the girls who gave me such wonderful memories and brought such fulfillment to me,” Owers said.
The title comes from a phrase on a piece of notepaper one of his athletes brought to practice at the beginning of his first season.
The entire phrases was, “Effort is like toothpaste; you can always squeeze a little more out of it.”
Owers said it fit.
“It was perfect because that’s how they ran,” Owers recalled. “They wanted to squeeze more out of themselves.”
They crimped that tube for four state cross country championships, including three in a row from 2001 through 2003 and missed making it four straight by two points in 2004.
Owers is a distance runner who had aspirations of getting to the Olympics.
“The thing that was so touching to me was that with all of the things I wanted to achieve as an athlete I found much more fulfilling in coaching those girls,” Owers said. “I realized that was my calling, and I mentioned in the book how my life changed because of those girls.”
The story is also about the training, the workouts and winning those championships.
He also mentions individual champions like Sally Meyerhoff, who won consecutive titles in 2000 and 2001, and another two-time winner, Kristin Phillips, who took home the gold in 2004 and 2005.
It is also about Owers’ final season with the Pride when senior Samantha Delgado became deathly ill on the eve of another Pride run at the title.
“She was in the hospital for about six weeks and had to be sedated for several weeks,” Owers said. “That chapter is about how she survived and how the girls rallied around her. It wasn’t a championship season, but it was a season that brought the team close together because Sam was so sick.”
Other chapters recall special relationships, team chemistry and how it had a positive effect on the teams.
Owers was a science major in college and a math teacher at Mountain Pointe, but he did write letters to inspire his girls on the teams.
“I always enjoyed writing those letters to the girls,” he said. “I had started thinking about writing a book about three or four years into coaching. Then, when I started writing the book I had so much fun going back and remembering the good times we had.”
Owers published the book himself.
“I found a publisher, but they wanted a bunch of money up front,” he said. “Then I started looking at publishing sites and found one at www.lulu.com.”
The book is available at that website, and Owers is exploring working with Amazon.com as another publishing option.
“I worked hard on it and for a first shot, I’m pleased,” Owers said. “But it’s really been fun hearing back from the runners and maybe this is the kind of book our runners can pass on to another generation.”