Having high school running coaches as parents turned out even better than the McCabe family had expected.
Hinsdale Central freshman Grace McCabe developed a passion to run in middle school. That is continuing to thrive as she runs for her father, Mark McCabe, Hinsdale Central’s girls cross country coach for the past 15 years.
Sarah McCabe, Grace’s mother, was the longtime girls cross country coach at Oak Park-River Forest before retiring in 2010. She now is in her first season as the cross country and track and field coach at Westview Hills Middle School in Willowbrook.
That gives her time to be a team mom who can watch her daughter run for her husband’s team.
“Now I stand back and just cheer,” Sarah McCabe said.
The mother of two daughters (Catherine, 9, is in fourth grade), Sarah McCabe knew her time would become more precious as the girls became older and embraced their own activities.
“When Grace was in fifth grade, she looked up at dinner and said, ‘Mom, when do I get to be on a team?’ ” Sarah McCabe said.
The conversation stuck with Sarah McCabe, who realized that continuing to coach high school girls cross country might interfere with following Grace McCabe’s career.
“Mark and I are careful; we’re very mindful of not pressuring her,” Sarah McCabe said. “We make sure she loves to do this because she wants to. It’s not because of us. This has to be her.”
“They always let me love whatever sport I wanted to do,” Grace McCabe said. “They do not force me to run. I tried it in middle school [at Westview Hills] and I really liked it. It’s fun having two coaches as parents. They know a lot about the sport.”
There are some indications around the McCabe home that runners live there. The McCabes own a foam roller that Grace McCabe uses to massage her feet. She also sits and rolls her soles along a lacrosse ball as a therapy exercise. She said her parents remind her about following a proper diet during running season.
Mark and Sarah McCabe graduated several years apart from OPRF. Mark McCabe ran for legendary coach Roy Gummerson.
Both Mark and Sarah McCabe were coaching their own cross country teams when Grace was born. Sarah McCabe brought Grace to cross country practices at OPRF just a few days after giving birth.
Grace McCabe was destined to become a Red Devils runner. When she was in middle school, she would work out during the offseason with her father’s teams.
Grace McCabe’s top finish this season was 10th (17:56.3) at the St. Charles North Invitational Oct. 4. She has been Hinsdale Central’s fourth runner at three invites this season.
“She knew all the girls coming into the season,” Mark McCabe said. “I like [coaching her]. I was looking forward to it. I told her the other day at an invitational I thought I would enjoy it, but I am enjoying it even more.”
The Red Devils, which have won three invitationals this season, compete in the West Suburban Silver championship Saturday at York.