Published: 12:00 AM, Thu Nov 04, 2010
Overhills mom in rare position of coaching both children
SPRING LAKE - This year, as head coach of the Overhills cross country team, Wendy Vance had a chance to see something she'd never seen before: both of her children on the same team. Her team.
Vance has watched her son, Phillip, and daughter, Emily, grow up heavily involved in sports. She has helped to coach them since their youth soccer days with Western Harnett Recreation.
She's been involved their whole lives, be it at their school, managing the pool where Phillip was a lifeguard, and even driving the school bus they rode before Phillip got his drivers' license.
The involvement seemed natural to Wendy.
"I didn't want that distance to develop the way you see with some teenagers and their parents," Wendy Vance said.
But never has she had them both on the same team.
"I never thought I'd see this," Vance said. "I'm so proud as a coach, but also so proud as a mom."
Wendy Vance has been head coach of boys' and girls' cross country at Overhills since 2008, moving up from assistant when Phillip entered his sophomore year.
Now, with Phillip a senior and Emily a freshman, Wendy finally gets to have both of her children on the same roster.
The season has been a success, with Phillip and Emily winning their races at the Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference championship Oct. 19.
Wendy was named the girls' coach of the year, with her girls' team winning the meet. The Jaguars boys finished second.
With top-15 finishes by Emily and Phillip at the 3-A Mideast regional meet in Cary on Oct. 30, the family - including dad Scott, who volunteers as an assistant coach - will travel to Kernersville to compete in the 3-A state championship Saturday.
Emily will be joined at the starting line by teammate April Sherlin, the only other Overhills runner to qualify for the state meet.
Emily and Phillip have both excelled academically and athletically, but Wendy says her two children couldn't be more different in their personalities.
"Emily's like me, she'll talk to anyone," the mom said. "She's more outgoing. Phillip's like his dad: introspective and quiet."
Both kids are accustomed to having their mom on the sideline for their sports activities.
"My mom's been there for me in all my sports since I was 5 years old," Phillip said. "It's really not anything different."
In fact, Wendy has only missed one of Phillip's races - the first one he ever ran. Turned onto running by his middle school P.E. teacher, Phillip started working to improve his mile time. He was, however, ambivalent about running the Carolina Lakes 5K four years ago when his parents suggested he enter the neighborhood race as an eighth grader.
"When we went to bed that night, he still hadn't decided," Wendy said. "So we told him that registration was at 8:30 and just to wake us up if he wanted to do it."
When Wendy and Scott rolled out of bed near 10 a.m. the next morning to find Phillip lounging on the coach, they assumed he hadn't raced.
"He was, like, 'I've been up since 7 o'clock,'" Wendy said. "I couldn't believe he ran it and didn't tell us."
Since then, Phillip's been focused on running. He gave up soccer and began training by running through Carolina Lakes and qualifying for the state meet every year of his high school career. He even tried to train through a bout with mononucleosis in the 10th grade, forcing his parents to forbid him to run until he had fully recovered.
Emily, on the other hand, isn't nearly as single-minded about cross country. She's been competing in road races since sixth grade. She continues to play soccer and only recently gave up being a cheerleader.
"I like to be all over the place," Emily said. "And I like to experience new things in running. It's good to be familiar with a course, I guess, but sometimes I like for it to be a surprise, like an adventure."
Saturday's state meet will be a surprise for Wendy and her racers. None of them have seen Beeson Park, which is being used for the first time as the site of the state meet.
End of the line
The event marks the end of the scholastic cross country season, but Phillip and Emily will both run the Foot Locker Cross Country South Regional on Nov. 27 in Charlotte.
And Wendy will coach them both through the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
After that, she'll get Emily training through the offseason. But she'll be saying goodbye to Phillip, as a mother seeing her son off to college and as a coach watching her No. 1 runner graduate.
"I know he'll survive college," Wendy said. "But next year's going to be tough without him running for us though. I've joked with him that I'm holding his diploma until he finds his replacement."
Staff writer Jaclyn Shambaugh can be reached at 609-0651 or firstname.lastname@example.org.