Teaching lifelong lessons: Brownstown coach sees many benefits of running


The main thing Derrick Koch has liked about coaching cross-country and track and field at Brownstown Central High School is seeing the improvement of the athletes during their careers.

“The (athletes) get so much stronger as the four years go by,” he said. “That is really fun to watch over four years. I really do think that extends beyond cross-country and into their lives. They’ll see that if they just stay dedicated to something that they’ll be good at it if they put in the time and the effort.”

Koch graduated from North Posey High School in 1987. He wrestled but did not run.

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He then attended St. Meinrad Seminary, where he earned his bachelor and master’s degrees.

In college, Koch started running for exercise.

Now, he goes out with the team during workouts.

“I enjoy running with this team,” Koch said. “That’s a big part of it. I still get to go out and run with those guys. I’ve been running with them for 18 years, and God-willing, I’ll keep running with them some more. As long as the body holds up, I’ll be all right.”

Koch said you have to be mentally strong to push yourself as a runner.

“I think the biggest part of running is trying to see what the body will do and what it’s capable of doing,” he said. “I like for those kids to explore that. When they can realize what they can do, I think that goes beyond the running and then into their lives. Not only can they challenge themselves running, they can challenge themselves in life, as well, and that’s what I like about coaching. It helps them be a better version of themselves, that’s for sure.”

Koch taught at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis for one year but did not do any coaching there. He came to Brownstown Central in the 1999-2000 school year as a counselor.

He has coached both boys and girls cross-country and track and field at BCHS and also coached girls track at Brownstown Central Middle School for several years and got to coach both of his daughters. He coached the girls cross-country team to a sectional title in 2002.

Koch currently is head varsity boys track and cross-country coach.

“I like track because you draw from them a variety of different talent levels,” Koch said. “You have some kids that are interested in the hurdles, some are interested in discus, so you have a variety of kids there. It’s more difficult to organize, but I do like that it draws different type athletes, so that’s enjoyable.

“I like cross-country because everybody is on the same page. They really build a good rapport with each other. It’s a good team bonding experience. I personally believe cross-country is one of the more difficult sports there is when you’re running for 18 minutes or however long your race is. When you’re pushing yourself to the limit, it is a very difficult thing to do because your body is telling you to shut down and you’re telling it to go.”

Koch said coaching styles have changed since he started 18 years ago.

“One thing that has changed since I’ve been here is that it’s kind of like every other sport,” he said. “The athletes that are really good at distance running have to train year-round. When I first came, they didn’t train that much year-round. It was just during the season. But now, we’re running in the summer faithfully. We have winter running (Polar Bear Club) faithfully, so that’s changed for sure since I’ve been here.”

In high school cross-country, boys and girls run 5,000 meters (3.1 miles).

“I think that’s a great distance,” Koch said. “When they run 8K or 10K or whatever they may run in college, that’s a different level, so right now, I think 5Ks are a perfect distance.”

In track and field, he said he likes that there are 16 events, including sprints, distances, hurdles, relays and field events.

The renovation to Blevins Memorial Stadium not only included putting in a turf football field but also a new eight-lane track.

“I’m extremely excited to see where that goes,” Koch said. “There’s a possibility now we could host a conference meet or possible a sectional down the road. I’m excited about having eight lanes.”

Brownstown does not have any home cross-country meets, and all of the meets the Braves participate in are invitationals.

He tells his athletes to keep a positive outlook no matter how hard the challenge ahead of them is.

“To me, that’s where you see how kids are improving,” Koch said. “The times will show it, but I like to watch a runner when they’re out there, if they’re able to track down that runner in front of them, if they’re that motivated in their mind that they can do that, then you start to get over the pain hurdle, which is very clear in cross-country.

“That’s how I know a runner is improving and when they’re ready to go to that next level. They’re able to ignore that pain somehow and move to where they need to be. I like seeing that part. Every year, we have kids that kind of get over those hurdles a little bit more each race, or sometimes after a couple races, I’ll see that they’re starting to step up and they’re starting to realize that they can run with this pain and it’s going to be OK.”

Koch said he plans to continue coaching and working at Brownstown.

“I’ve very much enjoyed BCHS,” he said. “It’s a good group of teachers to work with, the administration to work with. I like the students we have here. For the most part, they’re all willing to work. They come from families with good work ethic, and because of that, they’re just fun to coach.”

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