Crossing the finish line

CHS head track coaches step down for new aspirations

Rod Raunig and Alisa Wise are not calling this a retirement.

Just an opportunity for each of them to pursue personal and family aspirations after coaching track and field at Camas High School for two decades.

“I could keep doing this for as many years as I felt healthy, but it’s one thing and it’s a big world and I want to see some different mental landscapes and different physical landscapes,” Raunig said. “I’m not retiring. As weird as it sounds, I’m resigning from track. And it’s not because there was any kind of problem, I just want to do something else.”

Wise has been the head coach for 20 years. Raunig came on board 17 years ago, and has been the head boys coach for the past 10 years.

“I’ve been feeling it for a few years now,” Wise said. “Just wanting more time to myself, wanting more time for my grandkids, wanting more time with my husband … just more time period to go and do different things with my family and my extended family.”

She added that leaving is bittersweet. “As painful as it is to let this go, it’s also exciting and peaceful to go and do some different things.”

Raunig and Wise will keep teaching at the high school. Raunig teaches art and Wise teaches math.

“I applied at three schools, Camas gave me a job and I’ve been here ever since,” Raunig said. “It’s the only teaching job I’ve ever had and the only coaching job I’ve ever had.”

Wise said her and Raunig are like the yin and the yang. He is calm and keeps the kid’s emotions in check. She is all about the numbers and the comings and goings of track and field.

As they put those two skill sets together, overtime it became a perfect combination.

“He’s artistic, very Zen and he’s so good with the kids,” Wise said. “I’m kind of the nerdy person behind the stats scene. So, it’s been fun for us. Like two puzzle pieces coming together.”

Raunig and Wise have been around long enough to remember when Camas wasn’t good at sports, let alone track and field.

“When we were smaller, it was so hard to win anything,” Raunig said. “The challenge was, can we get the right kids in the right events.

“Now, it’s trying to make sure all the kids who turn out have a great experience,” he added. “The competition sort of takes care of itself.”

They thank the athletes, parents, coaches, the middle school and youth programs and a supportive school district for helping the Papermakers keep rolling along.

“It’s been a fun journey,” Wise said. “Like Rod said, we struggled to win anything at the beginning. Some of these kids don’t know that. Some of these families don’t know that. They don’t remember that struggle. I know that struggle. He knows that struggle.”

It makes them appreciate how far Camas has come as a school and a community. Their advice to current and future CHS student athletes is to never take these days for granted.

“You got to earn your own experience, and do that through hard work and being positive,” Raunig said. “That would be the best advice I could give anybody. Come out and earn an experience, and don’t take it for granted.”

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