Leader Spotlight: Ms. Guzman from Legacy High School

Antonia Guzman, a leader at Legacy High School Complex, discovered her passion for running through Students Run LA. While she has enjoyed the opportunity to mentor students, she believes that they also teach her incredible lessons. Thank you Antonia for all you do for SRLA students!

Q: Where are you a SRLA leader? How many years have you been with SRLA?
A: I have been a leader at Legacy High School Complex for six years.

Q: What is your day job? 
A: I am a High School English Teacher.

Q: What is your favorite training tip, quote, or words of advice that you share with your students?
A: We are our biggest critics. When we run the only competition we have is with ourselves but we often compare ourselves to others. Never compare yourself with someone else. Run your race. Do YOUR best for YOU.

Q: What has been your favorite SRLA event of all time?
A: The best event for me is always the Friendship Run. To me it shows students how far their training has taken them. It’s challenging, both physically and mentally, but at the end our kids push through and finish! They learn they are more than ready to take on 26.2 miles. I love seeing their faces at the finish line!

Q: What is the best thing about SRLA in your opinion?
A: The best thing about SRLA is it teaches students the importance of goal setting and perseverance. These two are crucial to finish a marathon and even more to succeed in life. Our kids learn that with the right mindset and commitment they can accomplish any goal. They learn that the road will not be smooth. They will come across road blocks but their will and perseverance will help them get through those times and their success will be so much sweeter and appreciated.

Q: What’s something that people might be surprised to learn about you? 
A: I was not a runner before SRLA. I don’t ever remember running a mile in my life. When my students approached me to coach the team it was only because I stayed after school already. At first I said no. I knew nothing about running. When they approached me a second time I felt bad that they couldn’t find someone so I said yes. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I started running with SRLA as a coach and I haven’t looked back. In 2016 I qualified for Boston for the first time and in 2018 I ran the Boston Marathon and qualified for the third time. Never ever in my life did I think I could do it.

Q: Do you have a favorite teaching/mentoring moment you’d like to share?
A: My favorite teaching moment was actually during my first day of practice six years ago. The first day of practice I showed up in my heels with a clip board ready to track the kids. That is what I agreed I would do. I didn’t run and didn’t think I could so I was only going to supervise. As the kids were running and getting closer to finishing I told one group of kids, “You can do it! Push yourself.” One of the kids slowed down and told me, “So can you.” That left a mark. I realized that I believed my kids could run a marathon with the right training but I did not have an inch of belief in myself. The fact that my student believed I could ignited a new drive in me. His words “So can you” are engraved in my soul. Every time I feel like giving up I remember them and they keep me going. So the teaching moment was one that was taught to me.

Another moment- SRLA as you know is more than training for a marathon. Every year during training season I get to mentor students beyond the track. We talk about life: relationships, parents, grades, coming out, self-esteem, money, pressure. One of the most impactful memories I have is of two of my students a few years ago. One of my students had shared with me his family struggles. His father had lost his job and he worked to help his family. Even though life had not dealt him the right cards, he made the best out of every situation. He was humble and appreciative; always encouraging and a role model. No one knew the struggles he was facing. On one of our runs he shared with me that another one of our runners had given him a laptop and that he felt bad about it because the other student didn’t want to take any money for it. He was so appreciative. When I spoke to the other student he mentioned to me how he was getting a new laptop and was going to get rid of his. He saw that the other student was so humble and hard working and wanted to show him his appreciation. He said that when he gave the other student the laptop he wouldn’t take it. He wanted to give him something in return. He ended up taking $25 from him. To me, these two students encompass all the values SRLA represents. Their acts of kindness and perseverance need to be celebrated more often.

Q: Anything else you want to share? 
A: I feel extremely blessed to be part of such an empowering organization. I hope to coach forever. My next goal is to complete the six world majors: Chicago, New York, Boston, Berlin, London, and Tokyo. Chicago (2016), New York (2017), and Boston (2018) are done…I am working on the last three.

Make a donation in honor of Ms. Guzman today!