Time Out with Karen Lutzke

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What is your background in track and field and cross country?

I have been involved in track and field/cross country for a very long time.  I competed in high school, college and post collegiately as a competitive runner.  My first coaching job was at a middle school where I taught math and coached track and field.  After 5 years teaching and coaching at the middle school, I was offered the Head Cross Country/Assistant Track and Field coaching position at Michigan State and have been coaching at the collegiate level ever since.

How long have you been coaching at OC and what do you like most about coaching here?

My first stint at OC was a part-time head women’s cross country and track and field coach during the 1998-1999 school year.  I returned to OC in February of 2010 as head women’s track/cross country coach and am currently head men’s and women’s track and field/cross country coach.   I enjoy coaching at Olivet because of the people.  I really enjoy helping others be the best version of themselves that they can be and love the challenge of what makes each individual a better person and athlete.

Where does your passion for track and field and cross country stem from?

I have always enjoyed helping/guiding others to be the best version of themselves not only on the track but also in life.  I remember back in high school I knew I wanted to teach and coach for that reason.

What’s one thing you tell your student-athletes when you see they need to be inspired or reassured that they’ve got what it takes to succeed, whether in their sport or in the classroom?

It really depends on the individual because everyone is motivated differently.  The biggest thing for my athletes is that they have to believe in themselves and be confident.  Consistency is the key whether in school or training and hard work will pay off.  Trusting yourself and your coach are also big components to a successful individual.

What is an interesting or little-known fact about yourself?

I had the opportunity to compete in the Track and Field Olympic Trials in the 10,000m run in 1988.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Track and field and cross country are special because it doesn’t matter where you start in your first competition, you can always see your progress because the clock doesn’t lie.  Being a coach or teacher is a special privilege because you have the opportunity to help shape young men and women into their future self.


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