Hit the ground running: Coach overcomes obstacles
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She was running down the street on a normal day when all of a sudden a car hit her.
Kristina Bird, biology teacher and cross-country coach was 21 when she was hit by a car not once but twice during her college years.
“The first accident was a hit and run,” Bird said. “I hurt my L1, L2, lower back and vertebrae which offset my hips.”
It was nine months later when the next incident happened on a normal Sunday afternoon.
“I was running and I had the walk sign and this lady takes a right hand turn into my knee,” Bird said. “Just like in the movies, I slid across the front of her car and dislocated my knee cap.”
She first started running in middle school when she was 12 years old.
“I didn’t make any other sport,” she said. “I was the fastest in the school, boy and girl combined.”
When she attended school in Keller, Bird joined the cross country team her junior year. Her high school coach was David Park, cross country coach.
“She was an extremely hard worker and very competitive,” Park said. “Those two go well together. She ran in college, and ran in state meets in high school which led on to a great college career. It was due to her hard work and determination.”
Working hard was only the beginning of it. When she was young Bird’s mother was diagnosed with cancer.
“In high school, running was my outlet,” Bird said. “My mom was going through breast cancer at the time. She was diagnosed with cancer when I was ten and every two years it would come back and it would come back worse. It was my way of dealing with everything. It was basically the time of the day when it was about no one else but me.”
Bird’s mother battled for eight more years and passed away shortly after.
Following high school, she attended the University of Texas at Arlington and earned her degree in kinesiology, later Park introduced her to a coaching position in Decatur.
“I saw her coaching at a cross country meet my third year at Decatur and asked her if she liked it at Hillsboro. I tried to see if I could get her up here to coach,” Park said.
As a coach, Bird strives to motivate her runners to become successful, with the help and drive from Park.
“She’s a great coach. She can relate to how us girl runners feel. She also gives great techniques that will help you during your race,” said sophomore Dianna Martinez.
She always says this phrase of encouragement to her athletes while they run.
“I know the pain but this last mile we got to go,” Bird said.