Track coach volunteers to train young athletes for collegiate level

Coach Lonnie White trained with Ashley Price after practice four to five times a week her whole high school career. (Image: WTVC)

A Bradley County track coach volunteers to train a dozen young athletes to compete at the collegiate level.

On this week's Pay It Forward, Jessica Harthorn and his athletes surprise him at practice.

Coach Lonnie White is the assistant track coach at Cleveland High School, but it's what he's doing off the clock that has parents praising him and their athletes thanking him.

Old habits die hard.

It wasn't so long ago Ooltewah grad Ashley Price felt the adrenaline rush of competing at Track and Field events.

"Do you miss it?" asked Jessica Harthorn.

"Yes. A lot," said Ashley.

Her mother, Avious Price, snapped these photos of Ashley doing the high jump.

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She also did the long jump, triple jump, you name it! Many times she'd bring home a first place medal.

"I feel wonderful, because not only is she a good athlete, but you have to give it to the coaches, because without the coaches she couldn't have gotten where she got," said Avious.

Avious is talking about Coach Lonnie White, a man who made the drive from Cleveland to Chattanooga to train with Ashley after practice four to five times a week, her whole high school career.

"Thank you so much for putting in the extra time, knowing you didn't have too," said Ashley.

Avious and Ashley wanted to make that thank you extra special.

We were waiting in the parking lot of the YMCA when Coach Lonnie pulled up.

"Coach Lonnie, how you doing today? Good to see ya. On behalf of the McMahan Law Firm and Newschannel 9, I am here to Pay it Forward to you, to tell you thank you for all you do. What you did for my daughter during track season, what you do for the other kids. You always give and give, you never ask for anything in return. You volunteer your time. We are here to say thank you. I have $500 for you. Hold out your hand. 100, 200, 300, 400, $500 for you. I really appreciate you," surprised Avious.

Coach Lonnie says he loves track, because the sport is cut and dry.

"Track is fair, there is no politics in track. What you put into it, is what you get out of it," said Coach Lonnie.

Cleveland High School Senior Eric Parker says that's why he loves training with Coach Lonnie.

Within minutes, he and Ashley were warming up together.

Eric says his dream is the 110 hurdles at Indiana University, but Coach Lonnie is also teaching him life skills.

"It plays into life. You have obstacles you have to overcome, if you fall, you have to get back up and finish," said Eric.

Coach Lonnie says he wants the best for all his athletes, whether its sports or academics, he'll always push them to cross the finish line.

Coach Lonnie also coaches for the Chattanooga Thunder Track Club.

Do you know someone who deserves $500 for helping others? Nominate them here!

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