HELENA — Newly appointed Helena Capital High country coach Anna Doran received validation from her former cross country coach at Missoula Hellgate when Ron Jones told her she chose the right profession.
Doran, then girls assistant cross country coach at Helena under coach Linda Paul last fall, met with Jones, who was officiating the Class AA state race race at the end of the season.
Five minutes before the start of the state race, when the two embraced, Jones offered Doran some words of encouragement: "(Coaching runners) is what you should be doing," Jones told her.
Doran followed that advice and was hired as the Bruins girls cross country coach Tuesday morning, after serving a one-year stint as an assistant at Helena.
"I just love the sport (of running)," Doran said. "To be here (as a coach at Capital) is a nice extension of what I do, I am so excited (about the opportunity)."
Doran, who owned the Big Dipper Ice Cream parlor downtown in 2010 before selling it last year, said she enjoyed working with high school and college-aged employees.
"We put on a run every Labor Day weekend and ranged from a 5K to 10K for our longer races, and organizing that in the community was so much fun," Doran said. "Helena's running community is a pleasant community to be around, and to coach at the high school level and to share that love of running and all my knowledge I can't imagine anything more fun. I enjoy doing it."
Helena Public School activities director Tim McMahon said he felt Doran brings plenty of experience to the Bruins program.
“Coach Doran has an extensive background in both track and cross country,” McMahon said. “She has competed as a runner in high school and college. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the program at Capital.”
Following college graduation, Doran taught and coached cross country at Silverton Middle School in Oregon before moving to Helena. Doran also worked with the Vigilante Running Club.
"We are very excited to have a coach with Anna's qualities," McMahon told 406mtsports.com. "She has a wealth of knowledge of the sport and has good excitement and good energy to the program, and does a wonderful job working with our student-athletes."
Doran said she felt her coaching acumen grew exponentially at Helena under the tutelage of Paul, boys coach Kelley Gilbert and his assistant Jesse Zentz.
"Working at Helena High was a phenomenal opportunity, and I ran with those girls all summer to the end of the season, and I was so amazed at their capabilities," Doran said.
Doran's daughter Ellie and son Finn are both involved with cross country, and Ellie Doran is running at Capital.
The elder Doran also ran at the collegiate level with University of Montana for three years and ran a year at the University of Portland. Now she said she is ready to pass her knowledge onto her students.
"The athletes (at Capital) are nice girls, and I like working here with the teachers and administrators, and the new athletic director (McMahon)," Doran said. "I like the direction the teachers and administration are going, and I believe in (McMahon's) philosophies."