Up To Speed


Stephen Caviness Comes Back to the Team and Brings Along the New Assistant XC Coach, Lauren Proctor, to Help Out.

Last year, the cross country team was sad to see River Bend Middle School math teacher and coach Stephen Caviness missing from the team. It’s a new year and new season, though, and he’s back with a friend: fellow RBMS math teacher, Lauren Proctor.

It’s Proctor’s first year coaching XC, but she has already made her mark. “She makes me want to run faster because I really want to keep up with her,” said junior Abigail Bates.

Proctor runs with the girls during practice, helping them keep a steady pace and keep them going and motivated each practice. Proctor was inspired by Caviness to become an assistant coach. The pair are friends outside of work, and ran a running club together for River Bend Middle School. 

Proctor’s role as Assistant Coach is to follow Caviness and head coach Paul Gilmore’s lead. She holds the team accountable for their efforts and helps to motivate the tail end of the runners during practices.

“It was really cool to kind of have a new relationship with some of these athletes or to get to know them at all. It’s just fun to interact with former students or current students in a different way,” said Proctor.

As for Caviness, he has returned and has reclaimed his dominance to the team as the new season unfolds.

“He has pushed me to work harder after my [soccer] injury and keeps the team in check with his dominant personality,” said senior Nathan Van Den Berg.

Caviness’ role as an assistant coach is to be present in the day to day to be a sounding board for Gilmore, to be on the grounds running with the students, and to be an encourager on race day.

The reason for Caviness’ absence last year’s season was simply because he didn’t have enough time in his day to make such a commitment to the cross country team. 

“It was just a tough balance. For my personal life, I think it was good to take the break. Obviously, I’m back now, so we figured out how to balance it a little bit better. As I mentioned, it’s still difficult and sometimes feels unsustainable, but we’re making it work,” said Caviness.

Caviness has been running since he was in eighth grade, ran cross country all four years of high school, and ran a little track. Now he trains himself for marathons and half marathons. He also teaches Algebra and Geometry at RBMS. 

Proctor is a RBMS sixth grade math teacher and newer member of the sport. In high school, Proctor probably wouldn’t have even dreamed she would be where she is today. “I thought one mile was the farthest distance in the world,” said Proctor. She started running in college and was a college cheerleader at JMU. 

As the season unfolds, the coaches really have to buckle down as they are balancing teaching with practices. “I was surprised by the time commitment, even over the summer,and I was like, ‘Every day, I have something for two hours.’ You definitely learn how to structure your day,” said Proctor. 

Proctor and Caviness both have expectations for the team as well. “I would like to hear the athletes say that they are proud of themselves, [that] they think they succeeded, that they thought they were successful,” said Proctor. “It’s sad when you hear them saying they’re unhappy with themselves. I would just hope that we’re able to help athletes set goals and meet them and I want them to be happy and be proud of themselves at the end of the season.”