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MONTGOMERY, AL -
When you talk to most collegiate coaches about the student-athletes in their programs they are going to tell you how much they mean to the program and how concerned they are about them as people. Alabama State University championship track and field and cross country coach Ritchie Beene showed that actions are sometimes louder than words when he ran with student-athlete Lutrisha Altidor as part of a father-daughter team in the Father's Day Run on Saturday, June 16.
The event featured both a 5K run and a one mile walk, and was a benefit for the Haitian Deaf Project and hosted by Frazer United Methodist Church. FUMC is working with other Christian mission organizations to help develop a community for those deaf Haitians that lost their homes after the 2010 earthquake that hit Haiti.
"Lutrisha is a special person that came to the program, she was one of my first signees as head coach and I remember talking to Lutrisha and her parents and her coach and there was a little concern about her coming here and being so far away from home. Their main concern was there going to be someone there to take care of their baby," Beene said. "Her coach and I talked a lot and she said Lutrisha really needs someone to be there for her and be more of a big brother figure or a father figure and I gave them my word if they let her sign with us I would take care of her. So they allowed her to come and we just clicked once she got here."
"I was real tough on her, a lot of times tougher on her that I was on others because I knew what I had promised. That is one of those things when you make that kind of promise you want to keep, because I told them I was going to take care of her. As the years went on our bond as coach and athlete became stronger."
"I was honored when she ask me to do the Father's Day Run. It was a no-brainer when she asked. She was done running collegiately and there were not any NCAA rules to keep us from doing that and it was going to a good cause. With her folks originally from Haiti and we all know about the situations that have been going on in Haiti and the money they are raising will go to help the deaf children. So we were excited about doing that."
The bond between the two showed on the track and course as well, as Altidor went on to gain All-SWAC honors and been a member of several SWAC Championships during her career at ASU.
"Lutrisha has won championships every year she has been here," Beene said. "She has been one of my top cross country runners, one of my top 800 meter runners, one of the top 400 meter runners, and has been on two relay teams that have broken SWAC records."
"She is just an awesome young lady. She is not the one that stands out when it comes down to being the conference MVP, but she is one of those people that plays a major factor in the team winning the championship. She earns the scrappy points, she is the person that comes off the bench for you, and she is the person that is like a coach when the coach is not around. She needs that push, but you know she always has your back when it comes to performing what needs to be done. She is going to definitely be missed on the track after this year."
Altidor, whose parents are from Haiti, spends most of her time in Montgomery and away from her family, and Beene has kept his promise to not only serve as Altidor's coach, but as a father-figure away from home for the soon-to-be ASU graduate.
"It was Father's Day weekend and Coach has played such a big part of my life I thought it would be an honor if he would run with me on Father's Day weekend," Altidor said.
Both runners had strong outings as a total of 259 runners participated in the event. Altidor came in 13th overall and was the first female runner to cross the finish line. She ran the 5K (3.1 miles) in 19:33.00. Meanwhile Beene finished 49th overall and was eight in his age division (36-40), finishing the race in 22:51.00.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Alabama State University Athletics