James Anderson’s passion for running in high school has turned into his profession today. After graduating from Winchester High School, class of 2011, he continued his record-setting running career at University of New Hampshire. Once his collegiate track days were over, he has continued in the sport both personally running for a great cause (Team Rusty Rolls) and professionally as a college track coach.
What are you doing now? Where are you currently living?
I am currently living in Seattle, Washington. I moved out here with my girlfriend last January for her job. I am an assistant coach at Seattle University for the cross country and track teams and working at a small local running store on the side. I am still running but in a different way than most. I race while pushing my disabled cousin in a racing wheelchair. We have run four marathons and countless other 5ks and 10ks. Last October we ran a 3:13 marathon (7:22 per mile) hopefully we will return to Boston for the marathon in April – fingers crossed!
What connection, if any, do you still have to WHS or the community?
I have always felt really close to the WHS community. My mom has taught at the high school for 30 years! In elementary school, I would actually get dropped off at the High School at the end of the day. So I have spent a lot of time with the teachers in the foreign language department. Having the opportunity to work with one of your parents and other adults who have been instrumental in your life was really special. After I graduated college, I coached the boys spring track team for three years and recently worked as a teacher’s assistant in the special education department last year. I still stay in touch with many teachers, coaches and the friends I made along the way.
Was there a favorite moment, person or experience at WHS that you remember that has helped you find your passions or reach your goals?
So many moments and people come to mind, so I’ll break the rules and give you a few. Tom Kline and Joe Cantillon were my coaches at WHS and I owe them so much. They taught me a lot about the sport and even more about life, coaching, and preparing a team for success. The biggest moment for me was winning the Middlesex League in cross country my senior year. We poured everything we had into that season and for us to leave as champions was incredibly rewarding.
What was the path you took to get where you are today?
The path has been long and winding and there is still a long long way to go. After WHS, I attended the University of New Hampshire where I ran cross country and track for four years. I had an amazing experience there as our team was incredibly close-knit. We worked really hard and had the opportunity to compete at a really high level. That experience really fostered my love for collegiate athletics and broadened my knowledge of the sport. After UNH, I worked at Arlington High School in their special education department and coached at WHS. Being able to coach right out of college was a great opportunity and I owe Marc Arria, the WHS Athletic Director, a lot for giving me the opportunity to start my coaching career. It was really hard to leave Winchester, but sometimes you need to make sacrifices for the people you care about. That being said, moving to Seattle has opened the door to a college coaching position and the chance to make coaching my true profession.
Please share a success since leaving WHS.
I experienced some adversity my freshman year at UNH, I had some injuries and was running inconsistently. Things weren’t coming together as easily as they had in high school. I worked all summer long leading into sophomore year when I was a part of a school-record relay team and won a collegiate New England title. After thinking that I might not have been good enough or that I was in over my head as a freshman, it felt great to work hard and prove myself wrong.
Is there insight or advice you can share with current students?
As someone who hasn’t made it to where they want to go yet, the best advice I can give is to be patient. In a day and age where gratification is instant, whether it’s getting a Lyft, ordering food, getting something on Amazon Prime or getting likes on Instagram, it feels like we can get whatever we want in a few minutes. Don’t get frustrated if things don’t go your way at first. Work hard and do the best you can each day and make the most out of the opportunities you do get.