Familiar face to lead old XC team

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stubblefield retakes reigns of Southwest cross-country program

Even if Barry County sports fans do not recognize the name, many would recognize the face of Lee Stubblefield, especially those who have spent time driving in Barry County or running its trails.

This summer, Stubblefield, who was already on staff in the Southwest School District, was ask to again take over a cross-country program that he helped build into a state champion in 2000.

While Stubblefield chose not to answer questions about that team, he did give a glimpse of his simple coaching philosophy of making his athletes run, then run and finally run some more.

"I have an old school approach," Stubblefield said, "Lots of miles and intense training."

While Stubblefield knows what it takes to win and has the experience, what he doesn't have is a large team.

"It is what it is," he said. "We are very thin on numbers, especially girls. We have good athletes, and I believe our boys will be competitive at the conference meet."

One glaring weakness on the team is the lack of junior or senior runners. In fact, Stubblefield's roster includes just two returning runners in sophomores Skyler Willer and J.R. Henry. The coach added freshmen Jay Fields, Caid Harrison and Landon Hendrix, but had just one female runner listed in freshman Alissa Walker.

According to Stubblefield, it takes courage, discipline and commitment to be a good cross-country runner. He doesn't have a great plan to build his numbers, just an opportunity.

"You can't make kids run," Stubblefield said. "You present the opportunity and hope they respond positively."

Southwest opens the season on Sept. 11 at Seneca.

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