Coach encourages students to run


Breanna Rae Weber

“I couldn’t imagine my day without running,” said Monika Kalicinska.

Leah Ulatowski, Editor-in-Chief

As a high school student, Monika Kalicinska, assistant coach of track and field, was obligated to pass a running exam for a physical education course but the golden-haired girl soon earned the distinction of being fastest in class, even surpassing the ability of the quickest guys. Unsurprisingly, Kalicinska’s father recognized her talent and encouraged her to begin a journey that culminated in a recent world record.

On Jan. 4, Kalicinska eclipsed the world’s fastest marathon mark on an indoor track at the Run4RKids Indoor Marathon in Toronto, Canada. She was the overall winner by finishing in 2:53:53, which is nearly four minutes faster than the previous record.

Few people may realize that she almost did not participate in the event at all.

“I went to Canada to visit my family during the Christmas time, and a race that I was scheduled to run was cancelled (with three days notice), so my coach suggested that I run the indoor marathon instead,” Kalicinska said. “It was kind of a crazy idea. At first, I didn’t want to do it, but then he came up with the idea to break the world record. I like trying new things and pushing myself to break my limits, so I did it.”

When Kalicinska’s father first started motivating her to participate in the sport as a young girl, she never imagined it would blossom into a lifelong calling.

“At the beginning, it was more for fun, but then it became about passion and I couldn’t imagine my day without running,” Kalicinska said.

Currently, Kalicinska still trains, but it is more for the benefit of staying fit rather than in preparation for breaking records. At the moment, her time is mostly split between coaching Muskies and pursuing her master’s degree in business administration from Lakeland College.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting so many new people and being a part of the great community at this college,” Kalicinska said. “I am learning new stuff from my bosses and Nate Dehne, (vice president of athletics and wellness). Dehne is a big inspiration to me. I am able to learn from great people here.”

Kalicinska hopes more individuals will participate in the Lakeland College track and field program, especially international students as the team does not have any at the moment.

As a native of Poland, she sympathizes with the unique challenges of students who have learned English as a second language.

“(The track and field coaches) understand about school (obligations), especially with international students who need to spend more time studying. We are flexible, so as much time as you can give us, we are happy,” Kalicinska said. “With exercise, your grades will not go down; they can only go up. This is a Division III school, so don’t worry about being good enough. You exercise your brain in class, but here you exercise your muscles and get some oxygen, so your brain will actually work better!”

When asked about the future of her own competition and training, Kalicinska said that she is still in the process of deciding.

“Right now, it is hard to train and compete at the highest level, so I don’t force myself too much. I still run, but there is too much stuff going on,” Kalicinska said. “Later on when I graduate, maybe I can focus more on my training and the training of student athletes and coaching. At the moment, I really have to spend a lot of time studying. My English is way better, but it still takes me more time and I always have to visit a tutor. I really appreciate that Lakeland offers good tutoring!”

Kalicinska hopes to complete her studies sometime after this summer. In the meantime, she will continue training students and encouraging them to push their limits while still having fun.

“I want to spread that running passion to my student athletes and inspire them to enjoy their workout and running,” Kalicinska said. “I want them to keep this passion their entire lives, even after college.”