Ladera Ranch Middle School

Jennifer Castaneda Head Coach

HI 🖐🏽 my name is Jennifer Castaneda and I will be coaching over at Ladera Middle school. I am beyond excited for the journey! I guess you could say I started running when I was a little girl. My mom laughs because she said I ran my first running event in elementary school, however I forgot my shoes that day so I ran in clogs that I had worn to school. 😂 My running skills took me through high school where I ran track and then in my adult life ran several half marathons, tough mudders and various other running events. I live in Mission Viejo with my two teenage sons.
WeROCK history
I never heard of WeROCK until last year and school registration. I was at school with my son Cody who was going to be going into 7th grade. I happened to know one of the coaches standing at the WeROCK table so went to say hi and asked what WeROCK was. The next thing I know we somehow get Cody to sign up. As for me, although I had run several running events in my past, I had hung up my running shoes due to two sprained ankles (and just getting older – or at least feeling older). But once Cody got going I decided to dust off my shoes and sign up as a parent member and I trained with the team. Cody and I, together, finished our first marathon and it was the best feeling to not only complete the marathon but to also share it with my son.  I saw my son change throughout the year and become a different person than he was in the beginning.  The program really does change kids for the better.
Favorite WeROCK Event
My favorite WeROCK event is tied between the Circus Heritage half marathon and the 20 mile qualifier.  The Citrus Heritage is a really beautiful course through citrus groves and takes place during the beautiful sunrise hours.  The 20 mile qualifier is great because everyone has come so far and to run 20 miles feels amazing and then to celebrate at the end with a food truck and music while you watch everyone and celebrate with others.

Raj Patel Assistant Coach

Hi! I am Coach Raj. This is my second season coaching at WeRock. I enjoy running as it clears my head, and it gets me some exercise. I run for fun and enjoy the outdoors at my own pace. I started running while living in England, where I ran back-to-back marathons. Living in Orange County, I am fortunate to be able to run year-round, but I do miss running in the rain. My

History with WeRock 

I was introduced to WeRock when my daughter, Trisha, started at LRMS and joined in 2021. I am unsure why she joined, but I was excited that she did. I am super impressed with the program as she is not a runner but has already run several half-marathons with WeRock. I ran with Trisha through that season and rediscovered my love of running. 2022-2023 was my first season as a coach, and helping the kids of WeRock achieve their goals is rewarding, so I signed up again this year. The WeRock training program has made a huge positive change in our lives.

Race History

  • I ran my first marathon in Sheffield, England
  • The following year, I also ran my second and last full marathon in Sheffield, England.
  • After moving to California, I have run over 17 half marathons, including (OC Marathon, Long Beach, Surf City, and San Francisco)
  • I also enjoy running 5k and 10k races (short and quick)

Todd Perry Assistant Coach

Hi, I’m Coach Todd. This will be my fifth year as a coach with We ROCK. I grew up in Costa Mesa
and was a runner in High School. Later I became a competitive mountain biker and cyclist. I have
also done some fitness coaching, helping people meet their fitness goals. Fitness has always been a
passion of mine, even in those times in my life when I let my own fitness slip. Having a goal is
always a great way to get motivated, WeROCK provides that goal.

What’s my history with WeROCK?

My son JT joined WeROCK for the first-time in 2018 as a 6th grader at Ladera Middle School. He
completed the full marathon and the look of accomplishment on his face was priceless. Over the
past five years, being involved with We ROCK, I have been inspired to see how the kids progress
and the sense of accomplishment they have when they achieve their goal.

It’s Always Fun to Hear a Coaches Race History
Even though I was a runner “back in the day”, I never competed in any race over a 10K. in 2019,
while training as a coach with We ROCK, I completed my first full marathon, virtually with the OC
Marathon. Doing the full marathon on our own was a challenge, but with the support of our family we
finished! It felt good to complete our goal despite the challenges of the COVID shut down.

My Favorite Race that WeROCK ran during the season     
My favorite race was the Citrus Heritage Half Marathon. I really love the course and set a new PR!

Bernadette Schaaf Assistant Coach

Hi! My name is Bernadette Schaaf. I’m happy to be part of the WeRock family! That’s right; it’s a family! I always look forward to each practice and every race! Seeing the kid’s confidence grow as their miles increase has been awe-inspiring. Every student runner has their own uniqueness, and it’s been incredible to see them evolve throughout the season. Watching them become physically fit, build endurance, bond strong friendships, and encourage and push each other as a team is breathtaking to experience as a coach and parent. These kids are amazing!

We became part of the WeRock family in 2014 with our eldest son, Slater Schaaf. I ran Saturday practices with him. He had so much fun that we added Steele and Vaughn Schaaf the following season. My husband and I were Steele’s running aides for all three years of WeROCK. He has Epilepsy, Autism, and many other disorders. Vaughn was Team Captain for WeROCK in his 8th-grade year. My youngest, Vance Schaaf, also completed all three years with WeROCK. He watched his older brother race and helped me as a pace runner for Steele’s first year, which helped him develop the same love for running as his three siblings. This sport quickly became a family sport during middle and high school’!

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

I used to be athletic in high school and college. With family life and journeys, I had set aside my fitness. Having children provides learning experiences with both obstacles and opportunities. WeROCK was the one that got me back into health and wellness as Steele’s running aide. So thankful!!!! Slater and I did our first half marathon together, and now I’m addicted!!! Running your first half or full marathon is an overwhelming experience, with a sense of accomplishment and self-gratification for all the hard work and diligence you put into the race. The feeling overwhelmed me when I finished my first marathon, and I cried as I crossed the finish line of joy and astonishment. I genuinely look forward to seeing the kid’s achievements in this challenging and resilient year!

Favorite WeRock race!

It’s the Santa Run! Hands down!!! When I saw Steele’s teammates join us in his last mile, it made my heart sing. When I saw him push himself more with determination, it made me proud. When I saw his face light up and run into Santa’s arms with his teammates by his side, encouraging him at the end of the race, it made me cry because it was the perfect memorable moment I will always cherish!!!!