October 16th, 2014

Hyland's Heroes: Christy Furlong

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Christy Furlong
Christy Furlong / photo provided by the Furlong family

The following feature is a part of a bi-weekly series, sponsored by Hyland Insurance. "Hyland's Heroes" is a series of profiles that spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports.

Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

The 29th annual CSAA Cross Country Championships were held Oct. 6 & 7 at Tom Sawyer Park for grade school students.

Coaches for teams have a diversity of skills and a range of ages to prepare for this event and often, they appreciate help from assistants to get teams ready. You will also see some coaches who have participated in the sport since the inception of this event; while others are brand new, first-time volunteers. The beauty of the championship is the sharing and love for distance running that each and every one experiences.

St. Patrick has a brand new member and parent who is coaching their cross country team: Christy Furlong, and she is a cross country “lover.” The school is fortunate to have her energy and enthusiasm. Growing up in Louisville, she attended Lowe Elementary, Crosby Middle and Sacred Heart Academy. She is a graduate of the University of Louisville.

Christy was a softball player in her youth. Now she and her husband Brian are parents to 3 youngsters from age seven to nine years old who participate in various sports, one being – cross country.

Since Carly, Alyssa and Cooper are getting a bit older now they will experience multiple options for participating in CSAA sports, but cross country may prove to be something they choose to do for a lifetime.

When and how did you get your start with the CSAA? Why so?

I just got involved with the CSAA this year in 2014.

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved? 

After joining St. Patrick last year, we decided to enroll our kids in the school for the 2014-15 school year. One thing we were so sad to leave at our other school, Stopher Elementary, was the cross country team. We had been involved with the team for four years, we looked forward to the season starting every year, and I was currently volunteering as an assistant coach.  On a Sunday earlier this year, while looking through the St. Patrick church bulletin, I saw that there was a need for a new cross country coach for the upcoming fall season. Needless to say, with the belief that things happen for a reason, I knew I was meant to volunteer to fill that slot. Now, months later, here I am doing just that.

What sports did you coach and for how long?

Cross country is the first sport that I have coached.  As an assistant I coached for two years, and this is my first year leading a team.

What's the connection with your faith (stewardship) & giving your time to young student athletes? 

I believe that God will lead you and your family where you need to be if you ask for HIS help: listen, pay attention, and be obedient to HIS answers however they are revealed.  I know it was not just coincidence that a new coach was needed at our new school. I was meant to fill that spot.  With that understanding, I take the responsibility seriously. I am to coach and be a role model to these kids and my own children. The responsibility calls me to guide them to be better runners and disciplined, persevering individuals, but also to help them grow in their relationships with God and others as well.

Who was the most influential person on your coaching career? Why?

The most influential person on my coaching career was Kris Krohn.  I assisted him for two years as a cross country coach. I laugh and tell him he should write a book and package his practice philosophies and coaching style for cross country. He’s grown the sport at his school in just six years to almost 70 kids. He is adored by the kids and parents and has created a love of the sport too. I’ve implemented much of what he taught me in leading our team and hope to follow in his footsteps with growing cross country at St. Patrick as well.

What are your major themes/principles as a coach?  

My main themes as a coach are “Have Fun!” - “Do your best!”-and “Cheer on each other!”  Those principles I believe can also be applied to life in general.

What does coaching bring to you, your family?

For me, coaching is very rewarding because it allows me the opportunity to see how a sport can positively impact and transform a kid. In cross country, kids of all ages and skill levels can benefit. When competing in a meet, whether they are leading the race or bringing up the rear, they are cheered on and encouraged by everyone.  The sense of accomplishment that this can give a child is amazing. As a family, I hope that me being a coach encourages my children to volunteer when they are adults.

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of coaching? 

Coaching has allowed me to have many fond experiences.  A couple that stick out are when I received “Thank you” cards from some of my runners.  At that time I realized how much I had positively impacted them through leading them and encouraging them during the season. It was so rewarding to hear how they were thankful and appreciated me as their coach.



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