Coaching is a way of life for Peter Cross.
“I’ll be coaching until God takes me home. I got into teaching more than 50 years ago because I wanted to coach. I got right into it and I stayed with it, forever and ever amen,” said Cross.
The former 16-year national team track coach now trains Nisga’a athletes in the Nass Valley. He was in Smithers Sunday with three of his athletes to give tips to about 35 local kids age nine to 16.
“We were teaching the kids better form. We did a little bit with starting blocks and relay exchanges,” explained Skyler Guno, who came with Terry Clayton and Smiddy Grandison to help their coach out.
“It was very fun,” said Grandison.
The coach said he never wanted to be paid for his passion, and is happy teaching university-level history to pay the bills.
“Teaching is my vocation, my real advocation is coaching,” said Cross.
The coach has trained athletes to compete in the Olympics since the 1976 Games in Montreal, but has found a home preparing students to compete in the Indigenous Games since 1992.
“It’s the First Nations Olympics… it’s a multi-sport competition. You get kids there doing everything: all the team sports, martial arts, swimming, kayaking, every darn thing,” said Cross.
The facilities in Smithers are something that local athletes should feel lucky to have according to Cross.
“We don’t have the facilities. This is one of the finest tracks anywhere. It is a really high quality track with a natural field that allows you to do all your field events.
“This is a one-stop shopping place for sophisticated track and field,” said Cross.