Down but not out: Cross-Country coach breaks leg, continues coaching on bicycle

Addie Conway

Photo by Kevin Killeen
Head cross country coach Dan Sebben bikes along-side seniors Sam Berg, Alex Ward and Dillion Williams, junior Miles McMillan and senior Jimmy Rizzo during practice. Sebben broke his femur mid-summer, but was riding his bike and coaching cross country just 11 weeks after the accident.

Dan Sebben was a familiar figure on Webster Groves streets, running by himself or with the cross-country team, and even with an accident leading to a broken leg, he continues to be a familiar figure.

“I was riding my bike, and it started raining pretty hard,” Sebben said. “I was about a mile from home, when my bike skidded, and I slammed into the pavement. I broke my leg and dislocated my shoulder. I went to the hospital for surgery, though I didn’t get it until the next day.”

Sebben was in the hospital for four days, three of which he couldn’t get out of bed. After he left the hospital, he was on the walker for one week, and after five weeks he was able to put weight on his leg. He began physical therapy at two weeks and from then on used a cane.

At 11 weeks, Sebben was able to stop using a cane, begin running in the pool and was able to begin riding his bike with the cross-country team. He expects to make a full recovery by September.
“He takes his bike and rides with us as we run,” said Dillion Williams, senior. “He still comes to all the practices.”

Sebben began running in high school and continued to run in college. The 2012-2013 school year will be his 26th year coaching the men’s cross-country team and the men’s distance running track team.
“I’ve known Sebben for four years,” said Williams. “Through cross-country and track. He’s really cool and he’s a good coach. He’s fun to be around.”

“I’ve run everything,” Sebben said. “From the 100 meters to 50 kilometers. [31 miles].  I like running because I like being able to get out, to move, to be outside. It’s a great stress reliever and it’s a good time to think.”

Sebben’s injury hasn’t shaken up the makeup of the team too much. “The seniors have more to do this year, because there is more on Varsity,” said Williams. “It’s not because of his injury.”
“The seniors this year really motivate each other and know their success depends on each other,” said fellow coach, Dr. David Schuster. “They’re really positive. They’ve formed their own running club and they’re always very supportive of everyone on the team.”

Though it hasn’t affected the team, it has slightly changed the way the coaching styles work.
“His injury affected his ability to run with the kids,” said fellow coach, Jon Petter. “I run with the kids now. It actually has made our coaching styles more complementary and it works well. He just permanents the team, and everyone absorbs his drive. The seniors have really stepped in and become student motivators. ”

“He provides an excellent example,” said Schuster. “He’ll tell us stories during warm-ups about dealing with the pain and we’re motivated to do it with him. He actually does more now. Sebben is a model for how a cross-country coach should be. He’s a fantastically dedicated role model, leading by unswerving example. He shows us all how to age, while still keeping our bodies in shape.”

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