Bonzi assumes helm of Windjammer cross-country ship
Rockport — The Camden Hills cross-country team will see a change at its helm in 2014.
Helen Bonzi, who has been the co-coach of the Windjammer outdoor track-and-field team the past two seasons, and was a volunteer assistant the previous two years with the same team, has accepted the position of the school's varsity cross-country coach.
The 56-year-old Bonzi, who has lived in the Camden area since 1994, takes over for Becky Flanagan, who guided the Windjammers seven seasons and had a great deal of success, guiding Camden Hills to several conference championship and top-tier finishes at both the regional and state Class B competitions.
Needless to say, Bonzi, who accepted the position in May after Flanagan made her resignation official to athletic director Steve Alex in April, has large shoes to fill.
“I can't even tell you how happy I am to be the new cross-country coach,” said Bonzi. “We've only had [a few] days of practices, but we've already had a lot of fun and the kids are amazing. They are really fantastic kids."
"I'm very excited to have Helen on board,” said Alex. “She shares the [outdoor] track coaching responsibilities with Sarah Mismash here at the high school and I'm really exited to have her on board with us.”
Alex said, “We're going to miss Becky, but we feel great that we were able to replace Becky with Helen.”
Bonzi graduated with a degree in business administration from Nasson College in Springvale in 1980, and prior to that graduated from Aspen Country Day School in Aspen, Colo. in 1976.
Bonzi “played practically every sport you could possibly imagine” in high school, while she was a three-sport athlete in college, though cross-country programs were not offered.
“At this point it's not just part of what I do, it's part of who I am,” said Bonzi of her love for running. “I was a big ski racer in Aspen and we did months of dry land training prior to the start of the ski season, so we ran a lot.”
Bonzi also is a Level 2 certified coach for distance and throws with the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
“It's pretty high-level training,” said Bonzi. It's all about the science, physical activity, exercise, physiology [and] that sort of thing. And they are developing all sorts of new ways to train athletes and I just did both of those certification courses this summer. It was fantastic.”
“She's always working to improve her skills as a coach and her education as a coach,” said Alex. “The kids really like her.”
Bonzi feels the boys team will be strong this year, while an assessment on the girls team will have to wait as several student-athletes set to contribute to this year's team are on summer vacation and have yet to report, she said.
“It's hard to gauge how strong that team will be right now,” said Bonzi.
Bonzi said there are “about 50 on the roster right now, but we might pick up more after the soccer team makes their cuts.”