Meaghan Hobson (La Salle University) is the new girl in town after she just recently moved into her apartment in Woonsocket, RI. We decided to welcome the latest addition of the NE Distance Project with a quick Q&A session:
So what ultimately made you decide to make the move to Woonsocket, RI?
The community work and my part time job really sold me. I work for Connecting for Children and Families, Inc in an afterschool program for 3-5th grade students at Citizens Memorial Elementary. It offers homework help and enrichment classes on various topics. I have the opportunity to use my creativity in the classroom and design my own lessons. It is our goal to expose the students to the world outside of Woonsocket, RI and provide them with the tools to achieve a college degree. It is great to be able to do something fulfilling and meaningful outside of my training and the kids really keep everything in perspective. It really was a win, win situation for me. I get to do both of my passions.
There is also such a rich running community both present and past in New England. The area is beautiful and not too far from home.
Were there any other programs you were considering and if so, how did they compare?
I looked at a couple different groups but unless you are at the top of your event I would have to work fulltime to support my running. NE Distance is aware of the years needed after college to develop into the professional ranks and has set up the environment needed for it. We have a really nice apartment, weekly appointments with Foundation Performance and access to Brown University’s athletic complex. There is help finding a part time job within the after school programs that fit your interests and there is so much support within the board of directors/share holders for this group to succeed.
Who will be working with you as your primary coach?
It is a collaborative coaching situation between Bob Rothenberg and I. I was fortunate enough to have worked with one of the best coaches in the country for 6 ½ years and learned a wealth of knowledge from him. I am pleased to be able to use my experience and knowledge and work together with Bob to devise the best training plan. He himself is a very experienced and honest coach which I value.
You were primarily a middle distance runner on the track (with some sprints mixed in as well), what will be your focus here?
I see myself as an 800/1500 meter runner. I think I will be most competitive in the 1500/mile. I know I have the speed for it. I just need to work on the strength and mentality of the mile.
What are your goals, short and long term?
My short term goals are to get back in shape. I took the last year and a half off of serious training/racing after the passing of my longtime coach, Charles Torpey. I spent that time finishing up my masters and dual certification in elementary/ special education and reflecting on what I truly wanted to do next.
My long term goals are probably similar to everyone else’s in this sport, beat the best then be the best.
Now that NE Distance has reached its initial goal of two runners, we reached out to Nich Haber to get his thoughts on it:
Your initial goal for the program was to have two runners in the fold. Now that you do, what’s next?
David (Goodman) will start competing this indoor season. We’re looking at some meets in Boston and New York and will be making announcements about that soon. We gave David the fall season to get acclimated and work on some strength training. When he came to us he said he had not had the opportunity to run high mileage. He was able to get up to 100 mpw this fall, which is pretty great for a middle distance runner. We’re working in some speed training now to get him ready for indoors and are excited to see what he can do.
Since Meaghan is just joining us now, we will be doing something similar. She’s going to spend the indoor season training and building her fitness level. As far as getting involved in the community, Meaghan just completed her Masters in Education at La Salle, so we were very happy that we were able to get her part time work as a teacher’s aide at Citizen’s Elementary School in Woonsocket. The community service aspect of our program is equally important to us as the running. We were very selective in our process for bringing in athletes, especially as we get established. We feel that David and Meaghan both have the right attitude to be inspirational figures in our community.
Between the 85 or so kids that David interacts with every week and the 300 or so kids at Citizens Elementary, we are looking forward at creating some young NE Distance fans, some new fans of track and field and hopefully sow the seeds to make the track stars of the future. We want to do this by having our athletes excel on the track and in our community.
Do you foresee expanding anytime soon?
The funding we received to be able to bring on David and Meaghan came mostly from 40 individual donors through our shareholder program. We are actively fundraising and our goal in 2013 is to raise enough to be able to bring on two more athletes this summer. We had some good conversations with the members of the Woonsocket After-school coalition and our housing partners at NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley to see how much we could grow in the community. We would like to be able to grow the program to 15 athletes over the next 5 years.
What has been the feedback you’ve received so far from the community about this?
It’s been pretty overwhelmingly positive. From the time we started talking about this idea with folks from NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, they’ve been bending over backwards and pulling out all the stops to make this happen. They really understand the value of community-building and see how athletics can be a bridge between all kinds of people.
The community in Woonsocket has been really excited to have us there. Having an up and coming athlete running the Thunderkids childhood obesity prevention program is pretty inspirational. The program was having some difficulty finding the right person to run that program when we brought David. Connecting Children & Families is the group that is putting Meaghan in at Citizens Elementary. They are doing some incredible work in this hard luck area. They really jumped on the chance to bring in Meaghan.
We’re talking with NeighborWorks about having some race viewing parties at the Community Center for the kids when David and Meaghan are competing. The kids have been watching some of David’s races on Flotrack and are starting to get an idea of what track is all about.
We call ourselves a community-based distance running project and fully embrace the give and take that makes a good community. We put a call out to our boosters for furniture and kitchenware for the NE Distance apartment and we received just about everything we needed. A couch, tables, chairs, lamps and boxes and boxes of dishes, silverware, plates knives & silverware.
It sure has renewed my faith in people.
For more on Meaghan check out this past post we had on her. For more on NE Distance please visit their website.