KEOSAUQUA — Lucinda Moews was looking for an outlet, a way to get her mind off a terrible tragedy.
So she ran. And she kept on running. And soon it became one of her life’s passions.
It eventually led Moews into a career as a cross country and girls track coach at Van Buren High School.
Moews is in her fourth season as head cross country coach at Van Buren. This year, the Warriors have 12 boys and seven girls on the team, respectable numbers, but not where Moews wants them.
All that is secondary to Moews, who just wants her athletes to enjoy the sport as much as she does, see steady improvement and provide them all the tools they need to be as successful as they want to be.
For Moews, running is a passion, something that keeps her connected with her past and allows her to enjoy the freedom to escape, if just for a brief while.
“What we have now is quality runners. We don’t have a lot, but they all work hard and they are all showing improvement from last year. They are all dropping times, which is what I feel is the most important thing,” said Moews, a 1989 graduate of Burlington High School. “They are very competitive and they push each other to get better in practice, which is a good thing. They are using each other to get better.”
Moews, whose maiden name was Fahlgren, never had any intentions of being a runner. Back in her days as a youth growing up in Burlington, Moews was a swimmer. Her sisters were swimmers for Burlington High School. That’s what they did. It’s what they loved.
And then came that tragic night in 1986 when her parents, Malcolm “Tony” and Donna Fahlgren, were involved in a serious car accident on the way home from Lucinda’s basketball game. The accident left her father with a bruised brain stem. He was in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.
Moews and her younger sister, Darci, were still living at home at the time. It was a devastating blow to the family, especially the youngest daughters, who spent the better part of the next two years being shuffled from one family member to the next and various friends’ houses.
Lucinda Moews just wanted to get away, to get her mind off the tragedy, to remember things as they used to be.
She found her solace in running.
“I became big into running. It helped me get my mind off of the things going on around me,” Moews said. “I actually had the record (at BHS) for the two-mile for a long time. I missed the mile record by three seconds.”
Moews went on to Coe College where she ran cross country and track before deciding to start a family. She spent the next several years raising her kids and working different jobs, including a coaching job at a residential facility in Keosauqua. She also was a one-on-one for a student with cerebral palsy at Van Buren and was a teacher’s aide for a student with autism.
When her kids got into running at the middle school and high school level, Moews came on board as a volunteer assistant under longtime coach John Simmons. When a position came open for an assistant coach for the cross country program, Simmons recommended Moews for the job. Moews learned the ropes of coaching runners from Simmons, even if some of the lessons came the hard way.
“John was my mentor. He taught me a lot,” Moews said. “He let me make mistakes. That was the best way to learn. He prepared me to be a head coach.”
Moews said she learned the basics of running from her high school distance coach, Terry Donovan. She also gets a few pointers every now and then from former BHS boys track coach Toby Evans, who was at BHS at the same time she was. They have remained close friends since.
Moews is passing on that knowledge to her assistant coach, West Atwood, who coaches the Van Buren middle school cross country team.
“He’s a great assistant coach,” Moews said. “He’s an avid runner and hiker. He does an amazing job with the kids.”
Moews has a true passion for running, a love that she has passed on to her children and is trying to instill in her athletes at Van Buren. Her son, Ben, is preparing to run in the Des Moines marathon on Oct. 14.
Moews isn’t quote at that level these days. But that hasn’t diminished her love for running. And when she does, it gives her time to clear her head, to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a while. And it brings her closer to her father, cherishing the time they had together.
“My father was a very strong influence in my life,” Moews said. “He worked hard at helping my sisters and I become successful.”