Record-setting athlete returns from Africa to coach

After arriving back to Virginia from the Peace Corps and being approached by Bob Digby, the head coach of the track and field team, one of LB’s track and field star Anna Noguchi was given an offer she could not turn down. Having run for 4 years as a varsity athlete for LB as well as competing in pole vault, high jump, triple jump, hurdles and shot put, Noguchi broke the school record in the pole vault for outdoor track and field back in 2006 when she graduated from LB. The record to this day has not been broken.

Noguchi received All-Met honors for the pole vault when she was at LB; however, what she is most proud of is that the LB track and field team won eight straight district and regional titles in indoor and outdoor track and field during the four years that she was on the varsity team. Taking the life skills and academic inspiration by Coach Digby and Coach Michael Mangan, both of whom are still coaching at LB today, Noguchi was inspired to become a coach long before Digby and Mangan confronted her about it.

“As a student athlete at LB, I developed leadership skills, a powerful sense of responsibility to my teammates and integrity that have served me thus far and will last a lifetime,” Noguchi said. “I have seen the profound difference coaching can make in a young athlete’s life, and I want to use my technical knowledge of track and field and life experience to help train young athletes.”

Noguchi looks forward to working with the underclassman to create more depth for the team. She said that overall the LB track and field team has a great group of athletes, especially one certain girl who, Noguchi said, has a bright future ahead of her.

“I am so excited to have the unique opportunity of coaching an extremely talented young lady in breaking my school record in the pole vault and training her to break her existing school record in the pole vault,” Noguchi said. “I have confidence that she will accomplish both records.”

In 2005 while Noguchi was attending LB as a junior, she took second in the pole vault at the Virginia AAA meet with a career-best vault of 11 feet, the area’s top vault that season. She was the AAA Northern Region runner-up. Becoming well known for her passion towards track and field, Noguchi also was very passionate towards rowing.

“I tried out for the UNC varsity rowing team because I am always trying to challenge myself in every way possible,” said Noguchi. I spent two years on the varsity rowing team which was an extremely different experience.”

In her first season on the varsity squad after rowing for the novice team as a sophomore, Noguchi rowed in the novice eight that won the 2008 Knecht Cup and finished third at the ACC Championship for rowing.

“My vault coach at UNC had a very different coaching philosophy which lead me to become extremely frustrated, so I decided to try rowing” said Noguchi. However, I still lived with girls on the team, supported them at meets, and hold track and field close to my heart.”

In a village in Namibia, Noguchi got the experience to coach and train with young athletes on a Special Olympics team at Shambyu Combined school. The Special Olympics team competed with other schools in the region, country and even sent two athletes to compete in the United States.

“A lot of what I did was developing their psycho-social and fine motor skills,” said Noguchi.   “Due to limited resources, we were only able to run and compete in long jump and triple jump; all of northern Namibia was like one big sand pit.”

After graduating from UNC, Noguchi’s plan was to become a Health Extension Volunteer at the Peace Corps community to give back to others, and she has successfully succeeded in acting out her plans.

“I am extremely honored to give back to a program, both Peace Corps and the LB track and field team,” Noguchi said. “Also to my coaches both Digby and Mangan that have done so much for me and have made me the person I am today.”