“That dude is OLD,” says a 19-year-old Averett University student-athlete, “but he’s still running and still a champ. He’s awesome.”
Some might disagree with the “old” assessment, but everyone knows that Dr. Richard Ferguson is definitely an international running star. He writes articles for running journals, he studies the sport scientifically, and — most of all — he runs. And runs.
In his case, it’s not running the way most people think of it. Ferguson twice qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and is currently an international competitive Masters runner, recently winning titles in Finland, France, the United States. What’s more, the titles are not only in his age group. He’s still winning among all ages.
“You have to love what you do,” he says. And can he actually love the grinding, the relentless pounding on his legs, feet, hips? “There’s a good hurt and a bad hurt,” he admits. “There is a real sense of power and control on the good days.”
And what about the bad days? “On the bad days, it’s very difficult mentally and physically. You have to eat well, get a lot of rest. And hope for more good days than bad. So far … [he knocks wood for good luck].”
He’s taught at Averett since 1993, and he stays because, as he puts it, “The students stay the same age! They move on, but then their replacements are young. So I get to work with young people year after year, and I like that. I really enjoy them. To help young people prepare themselves for life after college — that’s a great job.”
He also emphasizes that Averett is not a research institution. “That’s one of the reasons I’m here. Research places sometimes do not value the teaching. At a large state university, you can have graduate students doing most of the teaching. At Averett, the professors teach, and there is a LOT of attention given to the students.”
He urges high school students to learn firsthand how Averett works: “Come visit us during the week; sit in our classes. Actually spend the day with us, then decide if this is the kind of environment you want.” He says: “I honestly believe they’ll see the interactions we have, the kinds of classes, the kind of campus … they’ll see that this is a place where THEY matter.”Then he’s off. Running.
Doctor of Philosophy, Sport Psychology, The University of Virginia
Master of Education, Sport Psychology, The University of Virginia
Bachelor of Science, Physical Education, James Madison University