Men’s cross country coach, a rock star away from field

As most San Diegans hit the snooze button on their alarm clock for the third consecutive time on a misty Saturday morning, Peter Gregory unzips his windbreaker and yells to his young team of chiseled runners to warm up and come back to talk through some strategy.
Gregory, head coach of the San Diego City College Men’s Cross Country team, quickly stretches his hamstrings and tells one of his athletes to jog with him. To Gregory, this dainty four-mile run compared to his abundant race record seems as though a walk in the park. Balboa Park, that is.
Gregory has been an avid runner ever since the age 11. Starting his running career at Pelican High School in Long Beach, he soon made a big leap and joined Everett High School his senior year. There, he started his coaching career as well.
“I remember when the coach asked me to look over the training schedule and I quickly made changes,” Gregory said. “We put that into test and we were very successful, and I guess you could say that was my first act as a coach.”
After graduation from Everett, Gregory went on a four-year hiatus from running to try and accomplish his childhood dreams.
“I took four years off to make it as a drummer before returning back to school,” said the 47-year-old.
Needless to say, Gregory and his then band didn’t make it to the big time, but he actively remains a student of the craft and plays shows in the local area.
When Gregory was 22, he returned to Long Beach to live with his aunt and to work as a tour guide at the Los Angeles Olympics.
It was there where he found inspiration and began to train as the runner he was supposed to be. The following fall of 1984, he received a scholarship to University of Massachusetts Lowell.
After an injury his first year, Gregory soon transferred to UMASS Boston where he trained under Bill Squires, the dedicated coach with a now laundry list of great runners he’s trained. With Squires, Gregory’s team finished fifth at the Division 3 National Championships and was named an All-American.
“At Boston, Bill Squires incepted in me that I was a marathon runner,” said the husband and father of two.
Since their meeting, Gregory has run 54 marathons, 17 at Boston and 12 at Los Angeles.
Leaving UMASS Boston with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, he started his coaching career at Notre Dame High School, an all-girls catholic school in Hingham, Mass., in 1989. In his one year of coaching, he led the girls to place third at the state championships.
Moving back to California once again, and under different circumstances, he took coaching jobs year-to-year until he found a home at East Lake High School in 1992. In 1995, he moved to Grossmont High School for three years until making his community college debut at Cuyamaca Community College. In his three years there, he had an outstanding track record, leading the 2000 women’s team to third at championships.
In 2002, he took thecoaching position at Southwestern College, where he stayed for five years. During his five seasons, he led the women’s team to Pacific Coast Conference Championships five years straight.
In the fall of 2007, he accepted the head coaching position on campus.
“The last two years have been really rocky for us, but this is the best team I’ve had,” Gregory said. “All have been recruited and most have been running competitively for four to eight years.”
Gregory pushes all his runners’ volume and says it’s easy to plan workouts since they are all in the same ability bracket.
“He’s not like any other coach I’ve had,” said Rey Rebadelloh, who is the number one runner on the team. “We connect with him so well and he’s almost like our friend that we respect.”
The husband, father, coach, runner and drummer doesn’t let his extracurricular activities get in the way of his job as a respiratory cardiac therapist at Alvarado Hospital Medical Clinic in Mission Valley.
“This has been my base job for 18 years,” Gregory said. “It helps me do everything else I do.”
Gregory has much aspiration for his 2009 season. He looks to take this team to the state championships, the first team in 23 years.
“If we knock off one of the teams in the conference, then we’re making history,” Gregory said. “State, that’s what I’m shooting for.”
One of Gregory’s runners turns to him as they finish their huddle before the race and says, “Hey coach! You’re running with us?”
Gregory smugly responds, “Of course! You guys are just lucky I’m not in shape.”

Donate to City Times

Your donation will support the student journalists of San Diego City College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, cover the cost of training and travel to conferences, and fund student scholarships. Credit card donations are not tax deductible. Instead, those donations must be made by check. Please contact adviser Nicole Vargas for more information at [email protected].

More to Discover
Donate to City Times

Activate Search
The news site of San Diego City College
Men’s cross country coach, a rock star away from field