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Coming home

Robin Balder-Lanoue has made the decision to come to St. Ben’s on more than one occasion — once as a student, and once as a coach.

But both decisions were made for the same reason.

Balder-Lanoue entered her first season with CSB Track and Field as an athlete in the spring of 1988. That year was the first in which CSB had introduced track onto its athletic agenda.

The prospect of playing for a brand new program was one that intrigued Balder-Lanoue.

“The other schools I was considering already had established women’s programs,” she said, “but I loved the community aspect that St. Ben’s could offer, and I wanted to be a part of growing the program here.”

The CSB track and field program had just 13 athletes during its inaugural year in 1988. This season, Balder-Lanoue’s 14th as the team’s head coach, the Blazers have 72 women on their roster.

Balder-Lanoue initially taught high school mathematics after graduating from St. Ben’s in 1991, but eight years later, a full-time head coaching position became available to her at St. Ben’s, and she pounced on it.

Until she was hired, the Blazers hadn’t quite found stability at the head coaching ranks, which made things difficult concerning the team’s ability to expand and recruit.

“You can’t grow a program when you have coaches turning over every three years,” she said. “We needed someone that was going to committ to being here for at least a decade, and that was my goal.”

“So it’s ironic,” she added. “I chose St. Ben’s as a student so that I could grow a program, and I came back to St. Ben’s for the exact same reason.”

Balder Lanoue hopes to run in her 18th marathon this fall.