When students return to school at Lennard High School, they will roam the hallways in an effort to find their new classrooms. You can be assured that when they are scurrying around the campus, Lennard cross country coach Eric Blicker will have his eyes and ears open in an effort to spot some new runners for the team.
“I use everything. I put up signs. I have kids recruit,” said Blicker, who has been the coach at Lennard since the school opened in 2006. “You name it, I have tried it.”
While he won’t be successful at recruiting every kid he goes after, word still manages to get around school about Blicker’s passion for running.
“Kids I don’t even know have come up to challenge me,” said Blicker, who teaches math at Lennard. “I have raced a couple of kids before (and won those races).”
Blicker himself didn’t get into running until his senior year at USF. He said he was challenged to do a triathlon and gave it a go. When he decided he no longer had time for the swimming and biking portions, he stuck with the running.
Even though Blicker earned his degree in engineering, he realized that wasn’t the career path he wanted to pursue. He quickly transitioned into a math teacher and hasn’t regretted it for a moment.
“Once I started working with kids I really enjoyed it. I haven’t looked back since,” Blicker said.
It would be easy for Blicker to transfer to a school not as far away as Lennard. His wife Beth teaches at New River Elementary in Pasco County and they recently moved from the North Tampa area to Brandon. Blicker said there no is other place he would want to be.
“I love the school. I believe in the school,” Blicker said.
This upcoming season will present a new set of adventures for Blicker and his cross country team. Blicker thinks this will be his best girls team since the school opened. Last year the girls team missed out on a spot at the regional meet by one place. Only two runners have graduated off that varsity squad.
“I have real high expectations for the girls team,” Blicker said. “It will be a mix of returners with a lot of new runners.”
In addition to coach, Blicker has new title going into this season, father. Beth gave birth to their first child, Olivia, in March. For Blicker, it means trying to figure out how to manage his time for his first full season as a dad.
“I’m trying to be as efficient as possible to get everything done,” Blicker said.
And who knows, years from now when Olivia is ready for high school, she might just run into her dad in the hallways as he tries to recruit her out to the Lennard cross country team.