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Running into relationships

Kay Morris was announced State Assistant Coach of the Year for boys and girls cross country last week at the summer annual cross country coaches clinic held in the Twin Cities. Morris has been coaching for six seasons and has been a part of the boys state title teams in 2006 and 2007. She is an assistant track coach as the hurdle coach for Perham track teams and also coordinates the afterschool Academic Boosters program for HOTL school.1 / 2
Kay Morris, fourth from left, gets a run in with members of the cross country team in pre-season practice. David Altstadt, Brady Speicher, Dalton Dahms, Kay Morris, Ciarrin Covington, Jessica Dreier, Emily Tobkin, Keith Schornack. Photo by Paul Gregersen2 / 2

When it comes to life, love and sport, Kay Morris has a knack for running into relationships. Morris places those relationships above winning and was awarded the State cross-country Assistant Coach of the Year honors for both.

"The relationships that I've built are my favorite part of coaching," she said. "That's what I like more than the winning."

Morris was named Coach of the Year at the summer annual cross-country coaches clinic held in the Twin Cities. Only one award is named annually for Class A and 2A respectively.

The fact that Perham's track and cross-country teams consistently win does not hurt and certainly puts coaches names on the ballot.

"We've been to state eight years in a row, so a lot of the coaches have gotten to know us," Morris said.

Morris is quick to stress how much building strong and healthy relationships with her team contributes and aids practice, meets and winning, along with what it allows in terms of personal growth.

"I feel you grow so much as a coach and mentor and that is what I try to be," she said. "We try to be a family."

With husband and cross-country head coach Jeff Morris, it is like a family.

Kay, originally from Verndale, ran track for the University of Minnesota. Jeff ran at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. The pair competed together on a team that traveled Europe, making stops in Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and other running destinations.

"We fell in love right away," she said.

After a year, Kay transferred to Campbell University bringing together a literal cross country romance and the duo began their teaching careers: Kay in elementary education and Jeff at the local high school.

Like many great love stories, along comes baby.

"We got pregnant with our first child and I wanted to be back by family," Morris said.

Jeff landed a job here in Perham, and Kay has been teaching part time and coaching since their return.

"My job is to work with the younger kids, our feeder program, so it's called, to encourage and get them comfortable with the program," she said. "By the time they're on varsity they're devoted."

Kay helps to mentor, motivate and alleviate many of the stresses of junior and senior high life.

"I think some kids have a hard time. If there are any problems, I'm the calmer down," she smiled.

Morris' contributions have had an obvious and positive effect on both her runners as people and competitors.

Last year both the boys and girls teams were second in the state meet--the boys missing the top spot by just two points and the girls 12 points. This past track season, one of her hurdlers, Matt Winkels, finished fourth in the class A state meet.

The boys team also compiled the highest grade point average of all cross-country programs in both classes, a 3.997, for the second year in a row.

Besides teaching and coaching, Kay is also the full-time children's and youth coordinator at Perham Community Church and is the mother of four children.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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