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THE LONG RUN SPOELSTRA TRADITION CONTINUES AT D.C.

Byline: Kirby Lee Special to the Daily News

Running cross country at Desert Christian High seemed like the logical choice for sophomore Amy Spoelstra.

Her father, Dean Spoelstra, is Desert Christian's principal and coached the team since the program's inception 13 years ago. Cousins Bethany and Matthew Spoelstra were members of last year's team.

Photos of Amy as a child dressed up in a Desert Christian jersey at races are prominent in the family photo album. She also has vivid memories of the team dinners and movie nights at the Spoelstras' home.

``I pretty much grew up knowing cross country,'' Amy said. ``I was encouraged as soon as I could and being part of the high school girl thing. I just caught onto it.''

Coaching family is becoming commonplace for her father, who also coaches the school's baseball team. There were three last fall: Amy; Bethany, a four-year runner now a freshman at The Master's College, and Matthew, a sophomore who is taking a break from cross country this fall.

And there figures to be more. Amy's brother Jeff, 12, is a seventh grader who runs in Desert Christian's middle-school program. Another brother, Jonathan, 10, is a baseball and basketball player.

Amy's uncle Duane, her father's twin brother, and another uncle, Kevin, each live within a half-mile radius of the Spoelstra home.

Three cousins, Andrew, who is in the seventh grade; Kara, a fourth grader; and Kelsie, a second grader, have aspirations of joining the cross country team at Desert Christian.

``It's kind of worked out well,'' Dean Spoelstra said. ``My brothers and I were all raised in the same home doing the same thing. We're not too worried about results and wins or losses but for them to give their best effort.''

It's been a formula for success. The Knights have won 10 consecutive league tiles, a Southern Section title, and are seeking their third consecutive top-three finish in the state Division V final.

Amy has also played a role in Desert Christian's success this fall. Not just as the team's No. 3 runner but for recruiting middle school classmates Nadia Tarazi, Erin Rees, Ruther Miller, Emily Zietlow, Ashley Hoderland and Amie Scott. The sophomores compose five of the team's top nine runners.

``She is just a joy and understands what we are trying to do,'' Dean Spoelstra said of Amy. ``She is a good indicator on the pulse of the team, how her legs feel and how the workout went. I never would have imagined her as a varsity runner and she has surpassed all my expectations. All of this is a pleasure.''

For Amy, her father serves as an inspiration, from accompanying her on weekend runs to pep talks. During the summer, father and daughter took turns waking each other for morning workouts.

``I don't know if I would have liked running if he weren't the coach,'' Amy said. ``Now that I know what it is, I love it and would never quit.''

Amy doesn't receive any preferential treatment because of her father. Last year, she was given a referral notice for a dress-code violation. There also are no exceptions when it comes to running.

She often addresses her father as 'dad' at workouts and races but receives a quicker response by shouting 'coach' or 'Spoe' because he is so entrenched in coaching.

``You know he loves his daughter, but she doesn't get any special treatment,'' senior Jynnifer Wright said. ``It is exactly the same for Amy as all of us. We think of her as Spoe's daughter, but she works hard for her position and is doing a great job.''

SPOELSTRA FILE

Name: Amy Spoelstra

School: Desert Christian

Year: Sophomore

Sport: Cross Country

Notable: Spoelstra's father Dean is the cross country coach and school's principal. Cousin Bethany, who graduated last year, was a four-year runner for the Knights.

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo:

Desert Christian's Amy Spoelstra is the latest in a long and successful line of runners at the school.

Kirby Lee/Special to the Daily News

Box: SPOELSTRA FILE (see text)
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 6, 2001
Words:677
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