Monday, June 25, 2012

BLOG INTERVIEW: Andrea Kooiman -

I first met Andrea at the Marathon Maniac/Half Fanatic group picture at the LA Marathon.  It was such an eventful moment, she doesn't even remember meeting me (lol).  We reconnected when both of us were asked to be part of a Coaching Panel on The Marathon Show with Joe Taricani. 

CLICK HERE to listen to The Marathon Show segment

As many of you know, I traveled to Pasadena to celebrate the 100th Full Marathon of a good friend, Mitch Chan.  Ironically, Andrea is also a great friend of his and she & I (plus, Narine Morales) worked together to get the festivities going for Mitch.

On that race day, she had the honor of running across the Finish Line with was a great moment to see them cross the Finish Line, as the crowds were cheering him in.

Andrea and Mitch crossing the Finish Line

 This interview is about Andrea's involvement in We ROCK

Andrea Kooiman

1.  How long have you been running?
I have had an interest in running as long as I can remember.  My dad entered me in some local sprint races as a young girl and when my older brother would come home from the Air Force, I would run with him.  I LOVED that time with my brother so running had a very warm happy feeling associated with it.

2.  Why did you start?  How many races to date?  What is your favorite distance?
I officially "started" running at Dana Hills High School on the Cross Country Team.  I was never very fast, but enjoyed putting in the miles.  After high school I ran for fitness and for the peace that running offered my soul.  I always knew that someday I would run a marathon, but it wasn't until a co-worker and friend, Michele Ryan (a retired Ultra runner) offered to train me to my first marathon that it actually became a reality.  The year I ran my first marathon, I ran 3 of them.  I was immediately hooked.  Since then, I have run 39 lifetime marathons, 2 50K's, 1 50miler and just completed my 1st 100!  My favorite distance is the marathon.

3.  Why did you start your organization?  When?
I started We ROCK because my son wanted to run a marathon when he was in 6th grade.  He was a one and done kid, but my passion to share this feeling with others did not go away.  I could see a very distinct change and transition in the children that I would coach.  The program is less about running, but more about building self confidence, goal setting and about being a better person.  We just use running as a tool to get there.  I

4. What is the URL?

5.  How many kids participate each year? 

Since we are a new non-profit, we have only 3 schools on our current roster.  We train approximately 80 kids per season (along with another 20 parents that decide to take the journey alongside us).

6.  Do you have a favorite moment/experience you want to share?
It would be too difficult to select just one moment.  I LOVE that our program offers a team dynamic, but allows each runner to achieve very individual goals.  My fastest runners will often stay to the bitter end of a race to cheer on and run in those that are in the back.  We are a non-competitive program that builds athletes with heart! 

7.  How can people help you with your organization? 

Like many non-profits we need funds to help grow the program.  The cost to sponsor a child through a full 7 months of training is approx $550.00.  Please donate via our website:

8. Future plans?
We want a We ROCK program on every Middle School campus in Orange County to start.  We will then hit the High Schools.  Our kids run with us directly after school and on the weekends.  With parents working longer hours and video games taking over, our kids are suffering from obesity along with many other illnesses based on lack of exercise.  Let's promote a sport that embraces ALL children regardless of ability.  You don't need to be athletic or talented to run.  You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and then be willing to do it again....and again....and again!  :)

P.S.  As Andrea noted above, she recently completed her first 100-mile race in May (Nanny Goat - Riverside, CA).  Here is her race report.  A must read  CLICK HERE  

Andrea with the coveted 100-mile Belt Buckle! 
(c) C. Ragsdale 2011-12
Run F.A.B.,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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