Coaches

ANHS

Christina Sepe | Head Coach | anhs@werunockids.org

Hello! As a coach I am there to encourage the kids and tell them it’s not about how fast you finish it about the finish line.

My history with WeROCK

I started Five years ago as a coach and the ANHS advisor on campus.  I will be coaching after school on Monday’s as well as the weekends. I really enjoy my time with the kids and they inspire me every day.

It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history! 

I started in 2012 doing the Disney Half Marathon and I got addicted.  To date I’ve completed 39 half marathons and several 10ks and 5ks. In 2017 I completed my first marathon and I feel so grateful I did it with WeROCK.

Everyone has a favorite race WeROCK runs and I really like the Southern California Half Marathon.  It’s the 1st half marathon WeROCK does and it’s a nice course.

AVMS

Ryan Tye | Head Coach avms@werunockids.org

My name is Ryan Tye and I am the Head Coach at Aliso Viejo Middle School as well as a WeROCK Board Member. This season will mark my fifth year as a Head Coach. My goal with every team I coach is simple.  Change lives.  The main tactic I use to help me achieve this goal is also quite simple.  If you require kids to do more than what the world typically asks of them, they will eventually reach a point where it becomes normal to give more than what is asked.  Those are the people who will change the world.  Those who don’t accept the status quo.  Those who are constantly pushing their limits and challenging others to push their own.  WeROCK gave me lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  That is our job as coaches, give the kids lessons and tools that they can call upon long after their days as a WeROCKer have ended.  It is why I firmly believe that WeROCK is not just a marathon training program.  It is a life changing program operating under the alias of a marathon team.

It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history!

I attended Newhart for middle school and was a member of the WeROCK  team during my 7th and 8th grade years.  During my time there, my Head Coach was Andrea Kooiman.  Some of you may know her as Coach K.  Yes, I have known Coach K for half of my life.  The two years I was in WeROCK gave me memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.  In fact, my best friend to this day ran WeROCK with me during my 8th grade season.  We crossed the finish line of the marathon together and forever cemented a friendship that will never be broken.   I may have not known it at 12 years old, but those two years in WeROCK would change my life forever.  It had such a profound impact on my life that after I graduated from high school, I decided to come back and coach during college. Since then I have run number 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and marathons.

Everyone has a favorite race that WeROCK will run and my favorite race is the Santa Run!

 

Daniel Alvarado | Assistant Coach

During the summer of 2016 I relocated my family from San Diego to Laguna Niguel for work. As my wife was registering my son Benicio Alvarado into his freshman year of Middle School at AVMS he was lured into the We Rock registration table and decided to give the 2 week trial a try.

It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history! After the 2 week trial we gave the season a go and soon after my wife and I were running alongside Benicio at mostly ever Saturday practice. Those practice runs led us to run many of the WeRock races races, Surf City 5K, Dino Dash 5K, the Santa 10K, Surf City Half Marathon, WeRock 20 Mile Qualifier, and finally the OC Marathon. The entire experience was initiated with the intent to show support to our son and along the way may wife and I got absorbed into the awesomeness of it all.

Favorite We Rock Race: I haven’t met a race I didn’t LOVE, yet! Every race presents its own unique and awesome experience.

 

Jona Williams | Assistant Coach

I’m Jona Williams and this is my third year with WeROCK at AVMS and my second year as a coach.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to cheer your children on while they reach their goal to cross the finish line at the OC Marathon.

 It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history! 

I started participating in Disney Half Marathons in 2011. To date I’ve completed several 5K’s, 10K’s, Half’s AND my first Full OC Marathon in 2018.  Prior to marathons, I enjoyed participating and leading boot camp classes and coaching youth cheer teams in preparation for professional competition. My personal goal is to complete my second OC Marathon alongside the WeROCK team in 2019.

Everyone has a favorite race WeROCK runs and I enjoy the 20 mile qualifier. It is exciting to see your kids true grit as they conquer and cross the finish line of one of the pinnacle runs of the season.

DJAMS

Jaime Barbieri | Head Coach | djams@werunockids.org

Jaime BMy name is Jaime Barbieri but you can call me Coach Jaime. I am so excited to be a part of the WeRock team this year. My goal this year is to work with the kids to help them achieve their personal running goals. There is nothing more rewarding than watching these kids cross that final finish line.

My history with WeROCK?

My niece was a part of WeRock back in 2011 and that is how we learned about the program. My daughter Shaelynn was in WeRock last year and she is returning for her second year.

It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history!

I have been running various races over the past 5yrs with my husband and kids. We have run everything from 5k to Marathons. I also enjoy doing Ragnar races and the Gladiator Runs with my husband.

My favorite race that WeROCK will run during the season?

I can’t wait to run the OC Marathon again this season!

 

Ana Astorga | Assistant Coach

Hello, my name is Ana Astorga. It’s an honor to be the new WeROCK coach at Don Juan Avila Middle School.  My goal as coach is to encourage and help the kids to achieve their running goals.

 My history with WeROCK

In 2015, my family moved to Aliso Viejo from San Clemente. It wasn’t easy…new city, new school, new friends! Looking into a way to make new friends and exercise, we found WeROCK. My daughter thought that would be something “pretty cool” for her to do while also being a great opportunity to make new friends! When the season began, I started coming to practice during the week and I really enjoyed running next to the kids. My daughter and I ran our first marathon together that year and it was the most wonderful experience I ever had! Since then we’ve never stopped running. WeROCK is not only a running club, WeROCK is family.

It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history!

Running was not my favorite sport, actually I never practiced any other sport before. My husband encouraged our family to run and that’s how we completed our first 5K in 2013 at the Dino Dash. However, we didn’t run again until we joined WeROCK. After completing the marathon and the WeROCK summer program in 2015, I was introduced to ultra-marathons by my friend and coach, Lori Robinson, who trained me to run my first 50K, 50mi, 100K, and 100mi races. I guess running is my favorite sport now!!

 

What’s my favorite WeROCK race during the season?

My favorite race is Dino Dash, I really enjoyed crossing that finish line with my family and now running it with the WeROCK kids makes it more special. My second favorite race is the OC Marathon, I love to run next to the WeROCK kids and coaches. Having the opportunity to see every single kid from our team crossing the finish line is priceless. I admire them all greatly!

Hankey/Newhart

Andrea Kooiman | Head Coach Hankey | hankey@werunockids.org 

Thumps UpHi!  I’m Coach K and I LOVE to run!  Believe it or not, I like to do other things as well.  I used to be a mobile KJ (Karaoke DJ) and I enjoy singing.  I also have a passion for rollerskating.  My goal for the team this season is for each person to challenge their fears and their doubts.  I would like to see every runner meet or exceed their goal of distance, time or endurance.

My history with WeROCK

My coaching began with SRLA – Students Run Los Angeles back when my son was in 6th Grade at Newhart Middle School.  There I coached with the program for 3 years before co-founding WeROCK.  I learned very early the positive impact that training for a marathon has on the kids that run with us.  For that reason, I will continue to work with our amazing coaches and the surrounding community to assist in growing the program for as long as I can.

It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history!

I have run over 100 marathon/ultra races.  Some of my race accomplishments include the Boston Marathon, LA Marathon, Chicago Marathon, the Grand Slam of Ultra (running the 4 oldest trail 100’s within an 11 week period of time), Badwater 135 3x, HURT 100 and the Mt. Gaoligong Ultra in China. Although my favorite place to run is on trail, the fact is, anytime I have the opportunity to lace up my shoes and run outside, I feel lucky.

 

Everyone has a favorite race that WeROCK will run and mine is the OC Marathon.  As the official WeROCK sweeper, I spend my entire race at the back of the pack.  It is exciting to receive phone calls and text messages about the progress of the runners.  It also allows me a lot of time to reflect on the season and the people that have forever been changed during the year.  Since OC was my 1st and my 100th marathon, it will always hold a very special place in my heart.

 

Brittany Latson | Head Coach Newhart | newhart@werunockids.org

Hi! I am Coach Brittany! I am always very excited to guide these incredibly young runners to hit their PR, run their first marathon, achieve goals they never thought they could and help them grow overall. Running will change your life in the most amazing ways and I’m so excited to take this journey with these amazing runners.

What is my history with WeROCK?

I learned of WeROCK in 2014 while running some of the So Cal races after my husband and I moved back from NYC. I was impressed with the Mission and Goals of WeROCK and reached out to see how I could get involved. I have had the pleasure of coaching since then!

It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history!

I fell in love with running while living in New York. To date, I have completed 50+ half marathons, 8 marathons, countless 10k’s 5k’s, trail races, mud races, Spartans, and 10-milers across the country and globally! Needless to say, I love to run and I love inspiring others to as well. What do you aspire to do? If you set your mind to something, you can do it, all you have to do is believe in yourself.

What’s my favorite WeROCK race during the season?

The first half of the OC marathon is hands down my favorite course of the program races. What an awesome scenic route for a first marathon or a PR. See you out there!

Saturday Coaches

Brian Barbieri | Saturday Coach
11800046_10207375274605038_8569918885675939124_nGood day, I’m Coach Brian and I am proud to be here for this years team at DJAMS. I am most looking forward to seeing these amazing kids learn to lean on and rely on their team. It seems like this program erases the prejudice of age and grade level from their brains and instills nothing but admiration and determination to make sure all of their teammates get to their common goal of running the OC Marathon (full or half).

What is my history with WeROCK?

Last year I was a WeROCK waiver running parent, present on Saturday runs and a couple of the races. I got to run the OC Marathon with these amazing kids and my 12 year old daughter. A few years before I got to see my little niece dressed in her orange and black cross the finish line for a race I thought was insanely far for any child to run (2011 OCM). But it was seeing her and her awesome group of WeROCKers that inspired me to get some running shoes and start hitting the pavement myself.

It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history

Since then I have done a Disney 5k, many local 5 and 10k races, the Surf City Half twice, the OC Full Marathon, and the Illustrious 2015 WEROCK 20 Mile Qualifying Run.

The WeROCK race I most look forward to is this year’s Santa Run. There are many cool races but this one takes the cake. I mean do I really have to explain, ok I will, SANTA IS THERE!!!! I absolutely love him. Who doesn’t right? I’m getting so super duper excited just thinking about December 12th

Lexi Smith | Saturday Coach

I’m Coach Lexi, and I’m so excited for another fantastic season!  The kids of WeRock are a tough bunch who take on every challenge with enthusiasm, fearlessness, and a healthy dose of silly middle-school humor.  I know that this season, as always, they will rise to the challenge of completing 26.2 miles and have tons of fun along the way.
My History with WeRock
While I wish I would have started running as young as the amazing WeRockers, I didn’t start until my freshman year of college.  Running was an escape from the stress of school, and I became so addicted that one year later, I completed my first 50-mile race.  A couple of years later, I met Coach K, our head coach and co-founder, while working at a local running store.  She convinced me to become a coach as soon as I finished my schooling in Texas.  I’ve been running with WeRock since January of 2017.
It’s Always Fun to Hear a Coach’s Race History!
Since starting to run in 2013, I’ve completed numerous races ranging in distance from 5k to 62 miles.  I would have to say that my favorite race experiences have been running the OC Marathon with WeRock; It’s inspiring to see kids so young push through the wall and find out how much they can accomplish.  Another notable race experience would be running the Star Wars Half Marathon dressed as Princess Leia.
My Favorite Race that WeRock Will Run During the Season is the OC Marathon, of course!

Our Rockin’ Coordinators

RachaelRachael Vargas

Volunteer Coordinator

Hi to all the wonderful parent volunteers, coaches and our inspiring student runners!  As the aid station coordinator, my goal is to encourage all parents to get involved with our Saturday practice runs and cheer on our runners as they achieve a new milestone every Saturday for the next 7 months.  WeROCK is grateful to all of those who volunteer their time, energy and encouraging words.  We couldn’t do this without you.My history with WeROCKSeveral years ago, I encouraged my son to join this running program called Students Run LA (SRLA) where I met Coach K as an energetic and passionate parent volunteer with a dream!  My son was not thrilled to run a marathon but wanted to be part of something great so he teamed up with Coach K and provided Saturday bike support to all the student runners including his mom! It was my first marathon. 5 years later, my daughter joined the WeRock team.  I volunteered and finished 3 marathons with my daughter.  She will forever been known as a Legacy Runner at her middle school. What an accomplishment!  Fast forward 3 more years, my daughter moved onto Cross Country in High School but I continued to volunteer as the aid station coordinator and the (unofficial) Saturday sweeper.  This is a wonderful program and I am grateful to be part of this amazing WeROCK family.It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history!
Before WeRock, I was proud to be a short distance runner and formed a small running club at my workplace.  We ran during our  lunch hour and participated in local 5ks and 10ks.  With the support of WeRock and Coach K, I have completed 8 full marathons (and counting) and several 1/2 marathons.My favorite race that WeROCK will run
My favorite race is the Surf City 1/2 marathon.  We are half way through the training program and the crowd is energetic with the Super Bowl Fever!

 

Gina Hylton | Race Compound Coordinator 

Hi all, I look forward to meeting everyone this season as we take this journey together.  My goal as a coach is to bring the love of teamwork, hard work and accomplishment into the hearts of these kids.  I am inspired watching them fight for goals many feel is out of their reach. As an individual, I look forward to crossing the finish line in May too.

What is my history with WeROCK you may ask?

I began coaching kids 12 years ago when my son ran the Students Run Los Angeles (SRLA) program. I have been a WeROCK Coach on and off since the beginning of the program, my youngest son was part of WeROCK’s first year.

It’s always fun to hear a coach’s race history

I have ran numerous 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons and 3 full marathon.

Everyone has a favorite race that WeROCK will run and my favorite race is the Tustin Hanger 5K, it’s really fun running through those huge hangers!