Track and field athletes in Cedar Springs got a real treat last week. Middle school as well as high school athletes gathered to listen to advice from a world-class athlete—three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein. The runner visited Cedar Springs to speak to the teams and join them on a run around the campus.
Ritzenhein, who graduated from Rockford High School in 1991 and set several state and national records, explained to the students the importance of working hard. “When I was starting with running, I was not that good. I was a middle-of-the-pack runner,” he said.
Times change. His career has taken him through college and into professional distance racing where he has represented the United States in three Olympic Games. Ritzenhein said he enjoys seeing the passion the younger runners have for the sport.
Middle school track runner Sarah Martin said, “I thought it was interesting what he shared about working hard and seeing the payoff.”
While Ritzenhein said he had benefited from hard athletic work in school, he advised the runners to try to enjoy their time as students. “Just enjoying the time in school is important,” he said. “You have to build those close friendships and don’t lose sight of the lessons you learn here.”
The Grand Rapids Press reported that Ritzenhein would soon be moving his family back to West Michigan, from Oregon, and will serve as assistant coach to runners at Grand Valley State University.