Cross country head coach Darrell General is one of the top five nominees for the Quicken Loans Hometown Heroes national award. This award, which aims to bring recognition to the most impactful coaches in Virginia, is taking place for a second year.
General said receiving the nomination was, to him, an unexpected surprise.
“I was caught off guard a little bit,” General said. “Being nominated is a nice honor, and I appreciate the kids nominating me, but they know they’re the most important thing.”
General has been a coach for the track and field and cross country teams since 2002. He also holds the title of former Marine Corps Marathon two-time winner, in 1995 and 1997. He has competed in five Olympic time trials, and won the Army Ten Miler three times. Despite his achievements as a runner, General said working with the athletes is his favorite part about his job.
“I just want to help them grow and be the best they can be,” General said. “That’s the biggest part of coaching for me. Everything else, as far as winning medals or state championships, comes later, but the biggest thing is just making sure that even in four years, [the students] feel confident about themselves.”
The nominations for the award closed to the public on June 30. After the announcement of the nomination, General participated in a film about his experience in coaching cross country, and his past as an Olympic runner. The film will go up on the website Flotrack against those of the four other nominees. There will be a voting process for people to choose who they believe has the best one.
Senior and cross country runner Abi Schlechty also took part in the filming of the video.
“Coach chose me to [do the] interview because he knows how much I respect him,” Schlechty said. “During the filming, I was just asked questions about [him…] what our school would be like without him and the contribution he has made to my life.”
Schlechty said General’s biggest contribution to the team is the amount of effort he puts in helping the team members.
“He has made running at Marshall a sport that everyone is able to do and a place where everyone, despite their ability, can fit in,” Schlechty said. “He is always doing all he can to help us, even if it means that life is harder for him.”
Head football coach and colleague Matt Hochstrasser, who coaches during the same season as General, said he was happy to hear about the nomination, and that General earned it.
“He deserves it,” Hochstrasser said. “He’s a great coach. He is motivated, and he gets the best out of the athletes. The kids love him.”
The filming crew visited General again on Sept. 18 to shoot clips of him coaching the team members during one of the cross country practices. The winner of the Hometown Heroes award will receive nationwide recognition, as well as a monetary prize of 25,000 dollars.