Cross Country Running Club

The Rain City Flyers Scholarship

History: The RCF Scholarship was established in 2013 by the cross country team parent group to recognize Jim Neff for his “. . . generosity and dedication to Rain City and our kids.” Since inception, the parents have collected funds which are designated for the Rain City Flyers Scholarship as an expression of thanks to Jim for his time, energy and effort for their children and for the hundreds of youth he has coached and guided to become responsible athlete/citizens of the world over his 29 years of coaching RCF. Over time the scholarship has grown to recognize all the many coaches, parents, athletes and others who have contributed to RCF.

Purpose of the scholarship: The RCF Scholarship recognizes a graduating high school senior with plans to further their education. The recipient will have participated with Rain City Flyers and demonstrated “... a commitment to working to achieve their personal best, both as an individual and as a member of the team.” Additionally, the recipient will be a recognized role model of an exemplary responsible athlete/citizen. In the absence of qualified high school senior applicants, the application process may be opened to current collegians.

Applications are being accepted for the 2022 Rain City Flyers scholarship.
The scholarship is funded by the generous donations of RCF families and friends.
To date we have awarded $19,500 in scholarship support.


2022 Rain City Scholarships Announced (pdf)

We are pleased to announce the 2022 RCF Scholarship recipients: Claire Archer; Ethan Erickson; Peter Leary; Jill Philbin; Sloane Selenis; and Maja van Zuylen. Congratulations to each recipient!

Claire Archer
Claire Archer came to Rain City Flyers later than most. As a high school freshman playing varsity soccer but not enjoying it she sought out a different athletic environment. She found what she desired in the inclusiveness of Rain City. Claire remembers her first practice: Rain City “wanted to nurture a love of running, of pushing oneself, of being the best you could be. No matter how fast. No matter how old. These were my people.” Running both track and cross-county with the team helped Claire develop confidence, hone the ability to push herself and learn the importance of a tight-knit and supportive group. Her success is reflected in her many RCF meet and team records, highlighted in 2021 with a 1st Place finish in both the 17-18 Girls 1500 and 3000 at the 2021 USATF/PNA JO Championships. She set a new RCF team record in the 1500 and just missed breaking the 3000 record.

Claire took what she learned through RCF and applied it throughout her high school career at Roosevelt where she ran both cross country and track while also participating in soccer, swimming and water polo. She won the Metro League XC Championship meet as a junior. As a senior team captain Claire finished 2nd in Metros, 3rd in Districts, and helped take the RHS team to State for the first time since 2012. The team finished 5th, the highest place in RHS history, and Claire placed 13th individually. She was voted MVP by her teammates after both junior and senior seasons.

Her high school track career was equally impressive. As a junior, Claire finished 3rd in both the 1600 and the 3200 at Metro League Championships. During her senior year she finished 2nd in both these events at Metro, then 4th in the 3200 and 7th in the 1600 Districts, and 6th in the 3200 at State. Claire is only the second Rider to break 5:00 in the 1600 and 11:00 in the 3200 (and first in both since 1986).

Claire is a stellar performer off the track and course as well. She was a class valedictorian and was honored as the RHS Alumni Golden Grad for her academic performance, leadership, community service and involvement in the school and in the community. Claire will attend Yale University and plans to run both cross country and track for the school. She will carry her personal meaning behind the RCF cheer with her: the desire to run for the team, for the group, for the community. Rain City was her start and fostered her love of running. She will forever remain part of the team and looks forward to running for the rest of her life..

Ethan Erickson
Ethan Erickson writes, “If perseverance had an official sport, it would be distance running.” Ethan came to Rain City as a 7–year old through the Meadowbrook track program where, like most newcomers, he was assigned to run sprints and short-distances. When he observed other runners heading off from the track he asked why they got to run farther. With the answer “Because they want to” he decided that he did too. Ethan pushed himself outside of practice by running laps around his house, not stopping until he had met his goal. In making the switch to distance running he learned, “finish lines mean more when I work longer to get there.”

Rain City sparked Ethan’s distance running aspirations and provided him with a community of passionate young athletes. He was homeschooled through middle school and friendships formed during practices continued outside the club and into high school. Ethan credits Rain City with training him to be a capable runner through a supportive and fun environment, with the end-of-practice games instilling a culture of excitement and collaboration that contributed to his team-based mentality. He ran Rain City Flyers through his 10th grade year, experienced traveling to JO Nationals, and was always a strong team contributor.

Ethan went on to run both sports for all four years while attending Nathan Hale High School. As a senior team captain he led the squad to the State XC Meet. Ethan finished up his high school track career as a sprinter! His Nathan Hale 4X400 relay qualified for the State Meet.

Ethan describes “the persistence required to struggle up Woodland Park’s gargantuan hills” as essential to other pursuits. At Hale he helped revitalize the Robotics club and was captain of the FIRST Robotics Competition team. He aided the Mock Trial team to a top ten finish at State. He was up early each morning to play piano in Hale’s jazz band and wrote 40,000+words for National Novel Writing month. Persistence will also be essential to his chosen profession of computer science where it is needed to decipher problems in code.

With plans to attend Seattle Pacific University in the fall Ethan will run both track and cross country with the school’s teams. His commitment to excellence is clear to see in his own words, “From ascending hills and running through discomfort...the achievement derived from overcoming difficulties is found in the challenge itself. I persist in running because improving myself is worth the momentary pain...I am in it for the long run—literally.”

Peter Leary
Peter Leary was a team member of Rain City Flyers from 2013-2018 and has many fond memories of his time with the team that still make him smile. He remembers hill workouts and huge starting lines; being nervous before a big meet, but then having a good performance; having a bad day at school, but being able to run it out at practice. He loved getting to travel and winning teams, but his most valued memory came not from achievement but from a lesson learned through complacency.

Running with the Rain City team, Peter discovered he loved running and had a natural talent for it. In 8th grade, however, he became complacent in his running, thinking his talent would be enough to get him the results he was seeking. This attitude, no surprise, led to disappointing results. Peter learned an important lesson and this experience became a turning point. He “realized what it truly meant to be a hard-working person.”

Peter attended O’Dea High School and worked hard both in the classroom and beyond. He ran both cross country and track as well as swam with their team. Here again he had many accomplishments and fond memories but experienced a major setback—an injury that required surgery. Recovery took months, but Peter remembered his earlier lesson and worked his way back. He finished his high school career as team captain and with participation at both the State cross country meet and the State track meet, running the 800 and the 4x400 relay..

Peter will attend Colorado Mesa University in the fall and will be running cross country and track with the school teams. He chose this school, based in part, by the fact that it had, “the type of community that [he] had been embraced in at Rain City Flyers.” He may experience setbacks but he will remember how to work hard. He is packing a Rain City singlet – we hope it reminds him he is still embraced by this community as well. Win! Rain City!

Jill Philbin
Jill Philbin joined Rain City Flyers in the fall of 2017 and has run cross country each year with the team through the 2021 season. When she first joined the team in 8th grade she had run the 200 and 800 and ventured into the mile but was ready to experience something new. She expected to have fun, but she “surely didn’t expect to gain challenges that helped build my competitive mindset, close friends, an intro to the world of running and enduring connections.” That is what ended up happening, though, and she credits Rain City as “... the best introduction to the world of running that she could have asked for. “

In 2017 Jill competed with the RCF 13-14 girls team. She then took this newfound love of running into her high school years at Ballard where she ran both track and cross country. Racing and training with Rain City had laid the foundation for handling the challenging workouts and races that were required for high school. Jill served as a Team Captain for both sports for two seasons. Her Ballard cross country team was the Metro League champion in 2018 and she competed at the State meet in 2018 and 2019. Each year she returned to Rain City after the high school season to run JOs, wrapping up her RCF career in 2021 at the Regional meet at Chambers Bay..

Jill is also an accomplished musician and has played the clarinet since the 4th grade. She feels like, “the grit and rhythm demanded by making music is shared by the qualities that make up a runner like determination and steady breathing.” The musical environment provided opportunities to work through performance anxiety, to develop an ear for what brings happiness, to develop skills and form life-long bonds and a deeper connection to community. She has also volunteered a lot of her time working with kids in local summer camps and sports organizations, where she both gives and receives growth and joy.

Jill will be attending Western Washington University in the fall and is looking forward to continue learning in the academic sense. She also plans to run both cross country and track for the school. Jill will take with her what she learned from running with Rain City Flyers and apply it to her future endeavors, ”how to pace myself, how to work off other competitors and teammates, to run hills, and to give my all.”

Maja van Zuylen
Maja van Zuylen started her time with Rain City Flyers when she was 8 years old. From the first practice, she was hooked on running and ran track and cross country with the team through the fall of her freshman year. One of the things that she loved so much about the team was, “all of the coaches and volunteers just wanted to see you make progress in any way that mattered to you.”

Rain City was a place of learning for Maya. She remembers it as a safe space where she wasn’t judged, but rather was always cheered on. Whether it was getting a big PR or just finishing a race, making it to Nationals or just winning a game of capture the flag at the end of practice, you were made to feel capable and to believe in yourself, that you were special and wanted as part of the team. “The strength that I learned to believe in at Rain City taught me to be resilient and helped me to fight back after injuries and tough races.” She carries that strength to tap into with life challenges.

Maja continued her running career at Roosevelt High School, making varsity in both cross country and track her freshman year and was awarded “Top Freshman” by the track team. And, of course she returned to Rain City to run JOs at Woodland Park. She rounded out her 4 years running varsity cross country as one of the captains during her senior year. She also volunteered with Girls on the Run, an experience that made her feel like she was able to give back to the running community which had given her so much. For both her RHS teams and at GOTR Maja focused on supporting social emotional awareness and growth.

Maja will attend Western Washington University in the fall, majoring in psychology. She plans to attend graduate school, as well, with the hope of pursuing a career in clinical psychology and counseling. Maja credits RCF in part for this aspiration, “The support system I had at Rain City is so meaningful to me and inspires me to be able to be a support system in young peoples’ lives.”

Sloane Selenis
Sloane Selenis ran with Rain City Flyers from 2012-2018, running both track and cross country for the team. The first thing that made her want to join the team was duffel bag envy, but she quickly “fell in love with running and racing, with the feeling of the wind in my hair and my bright green socks pulled up, with the fire in my legs and the determination in my heart, with the friendship formed between teammates and the greater community.”

Sloane notes learning about the value of community as key to her Rain City experience. She had early running success, achieving USATF Junior Olympics All-American status in her first year of cross country competition. Then as is often the case there were injuries and disappointments. But Sloane never let barriers stand in her way or became afraid of failure. Rather she remained determined and kept working and enjoying her teammates. Rain City brought her joy and the realization that “... with community around me hard things became fun.”

Sloane continued to run when she attended Roosevelt High School, running on both varsity track and cross country teams and captaining the cross country team her senior year. As Captain, she “worked hard to create a community where we supported one another, helped each other reach our goals, and celebrated our own personal victories, whether that’s setting a new school record or finishing a 5k for the first time.” She was also a stellar student graduating as an AP Scholar with Distinction and as Co- Valedictorian.

Sloane will attend University of Vermont in the fall as a Presidential Scholar, awarded for her academic merit. She will be majoring in Environmental Science and running for both the track and cross country teams of the school. Sloane will take the lessons she learned running with RCF with her and apply them forward. “One person alone cannot change the world, but when we bring our knowledge and skills together in a community, we can transcend our personal potential and create real change. Whether it’s formed from running or not, community breeds empathy and makes the world a better place because we are connected and care more.”

The Rain City Community joins in a cheer for Claire, Ethan, Peter, Jill, Sloane, and Maya -- the 2022 RCF Scholarship Award Recipients and for all graduating RCF participants … WIN RAIN CITY!

2021 Rain City Scholarships Announced (pdf)

We are pleased to announce the 2021 RCF Scholarship recipients: Olivia Freeman, Danielle Jaculewicz, Pete King, and Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce. All graduated from Seattle high schools this spring and will be going on to college in the fall.

Olivia Freeman
Olivia Freeman was running track and cross country before she joined Rain City in 7th grade. But she emphasizes that it was with RCF that she began to have fun competing and learned how to race. Rain City taught her the skills and habits plus enjoyment of the sport that motivated her to stick with it when the going gets tough.

RCF taught me how to win through hard work. She writes, “Winners and losers have the same goals, but what I’ve learned through years of hard work is that the difference between winning and losing isn’t about the goals you set; rather it is about what you put into what you do.”

Friendships Olivia made in RCF continued through high school with the RCF camaraderie reaching across different teams. Olivia attended Bishop Blanchet where she was awarded most valuable and most inspirational athlete for Blanchet teams and went to state all four years in XC, finishing 3rd in Metro her senior year. She currently holds the all-time Blanchet 5k record at 18.01 and ranks top 5 for 3A girls in WA.

Olivia wrapped up her high school running at the 2021 Metro League Meet with an ambitious program. She was 2nd in the 3200, 5th in the 1600 and 4th in the 800, scoring points to help her team to the Metro title. Olivia will attend New York University as a cross country and track athlete. Her outlook on life, gained from her experience running, will continue to serve her as she strives to model grit strength and perseverance.

Danielle Jaculewicz
Danielle Jaculewicz has vivid memories of her first RCF practice as a 7-year old on an early Saturday morning in Woodland Park. “… I was immediately welcomed and included by my peers and coaches. I never once felt like an outsider at Rain City Flyers.” This sense of belonging began what grew into eight years of participation for Danielle in RCF cross country and track. She writes, “RCF … [gave] me a safe environment to grow socially and athletically completely independently at a very young age.”

Competing with RCF opened Danielle’s eyes to the pressure of sports and performance. But RCF demonstrated healthy balance. Through capture-the-flag and the potato chip relay she learned to work hard while having fun, then race hard because she loved the team. In total Danielle attended 10 USATF National XC and track meets. In 2012 Danielle earned All American status at the USATF National Junior Olympics Championship, finishing 10th. That same year she also competed in the Hershey National Championships, where she finished 2nd in her favorite event, 400 meters.

Danielle attended Blanchet High School, where she ran on both the track and cross-country teams. The self-discipline developed from years of structured RCF practices provided the basis for effectively managing high school academics during sports seasons. She finished her high school track career as Metro League champion in the 400 meters, still her favorite event!

Danielle states that Rain City’s “… dedicated self-disciplined, yet lighthearted approach to participating in sports” set a platform for her to excel in high school and beyond. Following a gap semester program abroad focused on culture, language and service, Danielle will carry these values to her dream school New York University come January 2022. She is keeping the spirit of RCF with her as she enters the next chapter of life.

Peterson King
Pete King started running with Rain City as a 12 year-old. He describes his young self as active, but not “sporty” and jokes that he started running because he couldn’t throw or catch. His perceived lack of talent and comfort with losing led him to limit his participation in sports.

But Rain City and the sport of cross country gave him a new perspective on approaching competition. “Running at Rain City was never about being the best or fearing being the worst it was about working hard to improve your own accomplishments while also supporting your teammates.” He took lessons learned from three years with RCF on to O’Dea High School, running varsity XC from sophomore to senior years.

Pete credits the approach he learned to competition with Rain City as crucial to his overall development both athletically and in other life areas. He continued to strive to improve his personal best times in cross country while accomplishing First Honors academically and receiving National Honor Society recognition.

For Pete Rain City has always been less about competition and more about community. He observed that small groups of people can make a big positive impact through hard work and organization. His participation in the RCF stewardship projects at Woodland Park sparked an appreciation for giving back to the community by maintaining a community space and trail network that all runners and local walkers can use. He will take this RCF model of community action and all that he has gained from Rain City on to Gonzaga University.

Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce
Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce states that Rain City taught him that running is both an individual and a team sport. Before connecting with Rain City as an 8th grader he ran with his mother and participated in middle school track. He understood how to run as an individual. But it was with Rain City that he first ran cross country and learned about teammates pushing each other and competing to success for the each runner as well as the team.

His first year as a Flyer Eric Anthony’s team advanced to regionals. It was his first time traveling to race and the race did not go as planned. He lost a shoe in the mud halfway through but finished the race. While the team didn’t advance, Eric learned a lesson-- no race is wasted as long as your learn something. He still has that muddy shoe as a reminder that things won’t always to as planned – but you can still finish the race.

Eric Anthony took this learning into high school where he had a standout career as a member of the Ballard High School cross country and track teams, including serving as captain of the XC team. He competed at the State XC meet three years. He also returned to Rain City his freshman year to help the 13-14 boys qualify for Nationals.

When the pandemic hit is 2020 Eric Anthony found ways while his family was in in strict lockdown to train by himself and stay committed to running. In the absence of a track season he also took advantage of zoom meetings to delve more deeply into his passion for racial equity. He worked with many programs addressing those issues and was the recipient of numerous awards related to that service work, including the Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Award.

Eric is an exemplar of citizen/athlete. He will attend Western Washington University where he will continue his running career as recruit to their highly respected cross country and track programs. And he will continue to pursue his passion for racial equity through his major of American Cultural Studies.

The Rain City Community joins in a cheer for Olivia, Danielle, Pete and Eric Anthony -- the 2021 RCF Scholarship Award Recipients and for all graduating RCF participants … WIN RAIN CITY!

2020 Rain City Scholarships Announced [pdf]

We are pleased to announce the 2020 RCF Scholarship recipients: Nicky DiMartino, Camille Duckett, Michael Lewis, and Asa Selenis. All graduated from Seattle high schools this spring and will be going on to college in the fall. Their biographies were somewhat curtailed this year due to Covid-19. For the same reason we will not be able to have a summer recognition event for them. We wish all of them well as they continue their education in the fall.

Since its inception in 2013 the RCF Scholarship fund has awarded 22 scholarships totaling $15,500, thanks to the generosity of RCF parents, friends, and supporters. Thank you!

Nicky DiMartino
Nicky came to competitive running later than a lot of his teammates and friends. While he played other sports it wasn’t until after his freshman year when running through Upper Woodland that he realized he had found a sport that he had a passion for and excelled at. Rain City offered a new perspective on running – it was fun. And with the fun came friendships, competitions to be won, and success with the team.

His experiences with his RCF teammates inspired Nicky to take running and training seriously; he became determined to help his high school team succeed and make a run for state. Nicky was captain of the Bishop Blanchet team for his junior and senior years. The team finished second at the 2019 3A state cross country meet, and Nicky individually was 8th. He also made the podium at the 2019 state track meet in the 3200. His success in running inspired his involvement in other high school activities.

Nicky’s best memory for Rain City was running in the PNA Cross Country JOs where the team took first! He will continue his academic and running careers at Gonzaga come fall. He also looks forward to running as long as possible into the future and to passing along his love of running to other athletes in the future, mentoring and coaching young athletes in youth club program, much like Rain City Flyers.

Camille Duckett
Being a sprinter on a team that emphasized distance and cross country running was a unique experience for Camille. But being a part of the Rain City program provided the support of coaches and teammates that not only helped her reach her potential through track and field, but also made her feel part of a team. . . and it brought her one of best friends who she still talks to almost every day.

Camille participated with Rain City for four seasons and competed in many JO competitions. She holds RCF team records for the long jump and 400 meters in both the 13-14 and 15-16 divisions. Camille continued her athletic success at Roosevelt High School, receiving varsity letters in volleyball and track and field. She also joined the track club Seattle Speed and competed in many track meets all over the United States. In the Spring of 2019 she was the 3A state champion in both the 200 meters and long jump.

Camille has been admitted to the School of Communications at UW and is excited about the next four years. She looks forward to a lot of hard work and hopefully rewards both academically and as a jumper/sprinter with the UW Track Team – we look forward to the opportunity to watch her compete at Montlake and to support her progress.

Michael Lewis
Michael grew up in a family that included athletics as a core component and started running in the fourth grade. His biggest inspiration was his uncle Chris, who excelled as a high school athlete and continued as a running coach with Spokane Mercury. Uncle Chris was familiar with the reputation and success of the Rain City Flyers program and recommended joining the team. After the first practices and races Michael realized the trek from West Seattle to Woodland Park was worth it. The Rain City coaches and RCF community provided a nurturing and supportive environment of young athletes that allowed Michael to recognize his own talents, while developing a sense of humility through belonging to a team of other great young runners who pushed him to his full potential.

Participating in a culture provided by the Rain City Flyers smoothed the transition from middle school running to high school running, instilling the values of competition and a work ethic centered around team camaraderie and perseverance. Michael went to the state cross country meet for 3 years with the Bishop Blanchet team and was a member of the second-place 3A team at state in 2019 and competed in the state track meet. He was also instrumental in putting together RCF teams for the 2017 and 2018 JO cross country seasons in the 15-18 division.

In the fall Michael will pursue his academic interests in writing and directing movies at Gonzaga. He will also continue his athletic journey, competing collegiately as a member of the Zags cross country and track teams.

Asa Selenis
Asa learned valuable life lessons as a Rain City Flyer, from both great races and from those where she struggled and questioned why she chose to run. She learned grit –to persevere both mentally and physically in working towards a goal; to trust the process and work through self-doubt. With Rain City, teammates cheered and respected each other through every up and down, which supported growing confidence.

For Asa, the Rain City community promoted a philosophy of healthy balance in all aspects of life. Participation in Rain City isn’t just running: It means working your hardest and helping all your teammates work their hardest and support them throughout; It means being a responsible steward of the park and giving back through volunteering; It means thanking your coaches and parents who enable your participation in the sport; It means having fun and not taking anything so seriously that it loses the joy.

Asa’s involvement with RCF stretched over nine years with participation in cross country and track and field, including at the national meet level. When not running on a team she was volunteering at the Stampede registration, supporting the concessions stand or being a course monitor. While at Roosevelt High School, she applied this appreciation of balance to both academics and athletics. She participated in track and cross country, gaining team recognition as MVP and “Most Inspirational.” But she also took a season off to focus on other interests. In 2019 she returned to XC and competed as an individual qualifier in the state XC meet.

Asa will continue her education this fall at the University of Washington where she plans to pursue studies related to sustainable development, with a possible minor in Spanish. We know she will keep a healthy balance – working hard and having fun – and that she will continue to be a part of the Rain City community.

2019 Rain City Scholarships Announced [pdf]

We are pleased to announce that the 5 recipients of Rain City Flyers scholarships for 2019 are:  Harrison Fitch, Anya Hirschfeld, Dani Lockert, Lydia Montgomery, and Mina Young. All will be graduating from Seattle high schools this spring and going on to college in the fall. 

Harrison Fitch
As a Rain City Flyer Harrison was a model of true grit. He was a determined competitor and team leader, competing with the cross country team from 2009-2015. His first JO National competition was Birmingham AL in 2010, with several more to follow.

When Harrison entered high school at Roosevelt, he exchanged his racing spikes for football pads. He also carried forward from Rain City his skills of perseverance and dedication and his ethic to work his hardest when the going got tough. This allowed him to excel on the field where he matured into one of Roosevelt’s star players.
As he got older, Harrison realized that while sports were great, academics and community involvement were also important. He worked very hard for good grades, creating good scholarly habits to carry into college and the work place. And he gave back to his communities, as a camp counselor at the annual RHS youth football camp, and through projects such as park clean ups across the city.

Harrison will study business at the University of Washington. He has a set a plan for his future and without a doubt attributes parts of who he is and plans to be to the experiences he had running for the Rain City Flyers. He identified both coaches and all the parents who helped out as inspiring him and expresses his gratefulness with “Win Rain City”!

Anya Hirschfeld
It was as a Rain City Flyer Anya first realized her passion for running. As with her interest in many childhood activities, Anya followed the footsteps of an older sibling onto RCF. However, she soon realized running as something more meaningful for her.

Anya competed in JO cross country from 2009-2018. She achieved All American at the 2011 JO national cross country meet in Myrtle Beach SC and was a JO track All American in the 800 in 2015. She holds the RCF team 800 record for 13-14 girls at 2:15.13. While Anya was motivated by her successes at meets, she was inspired by the friendships, games, teamwork and having an outlet with Rain City where she could just be herself.

Anya is a true scholar/athlete. Academically she has maintained a near perfect GPA and is graduating 12th in her class at Ingraham, all while exceling athletically. She qualified for the State cross country meet all 4 years, with a high finish of 7th in 2018. She was a 4-time state meet qualifier in the 800 (2nd in 2019) and 3-time qualifier in the 1600 (3rd in 2019), with personal bests of 2:11.84 and 4:57.42, respectively.

After graduation Anya will attend Dartmouth College where she will run competitively. She has yet to decide if she will major in comparative literature or human geography. But she is committed to both academic achievement and continuing to improve on the track. Her scholarship application salutation expresses her RCF spirit she will carry forward: “To many more years of inspiring kids through running.”

Dani Lockert
Rain City participation sparked a lifelong love of running for Dani. She came to her first RCF practice as a 6th grader who had been unsuccessful at sports. While she did not find immediate athletic success, she stuck with it and learned to work hard, focusing on cutting time off her own results rather than race place finishes. The slow but steady improvement she saw made running fun.

Participation at JO Nationals on the 11-12 Girls team in 2013 was transformative for Dani. First, making the team validated her hard work. Then, running against kids from all over the country was a lasting memory and inspired confidence. And because of team friendships strengthened by the shared Nationals experience running the next season was even more fun!

Dani took her RCF perseverance and work ethic to the Roosevelt HS Girls XC team and came to the season as the best freshman on the team. This marked the first time she was best at anything athletic and was a source of pride that gave her confidence in all aspects of life. As a high school runner Dani still didn’t break school records, but she is proud of her own performances. She pushed at practice and focused on long term success and goals, striving for the next PR, but not needing instant gratification.

Dani notes that her 12-year-old self, one of the slowest runners on her RCF team, would be shocked to know that in high school she would be the cross country and track team captains and that she would receive a four-year letter plaque. She credits Rain City as a place for learning that hard work and dedication produce achievement and for showing her that running can be fun! She will take her love of running and dedication to the University of Washington come fall.

Lydia Montgomery
Lydia’s start with Rain City as a fifth grader began with “stressful Saturdays.” RCF cross country was her first experience with caring about competing and she experienced self-imposed pre-race nerves when she toed the line of a race. She wanted to succeed, as much for teammates’ sake as her own.

Over time with Rain City Lydia learned the team didn’t require any particular skill or talent–just commitment. So, she came to practice each day, ran every meet through regionals during her four years on the team, ate a lot of post-race Skittles and made many incredible friends. The nerves didn’t abate, but her lasting memories of running with RCF are the hugs and cheers from teammates following every good (or lousy) race.

Lydia took her RCF commitment to Ingraham HS, where she had an outstanding running career. She qualified for the state cross country meet 3 years. On the track she competed in the Metro championships all 4 years in the 3200 and 3 years in the 1600. She was also dedicated to academics and volunteering, completing the rigorous International Baccalaureate program and serving on the youth board of a non-profit.

This fall Lydia will attend Occidental College in Los Angeles, majoring in Geology with an Environmental Studies concentration, subjects she is passionate about. She will continue running varsity cross country and track. She realizes that running in college is sure to be a new experience and there are sure to be some new nerves. But she will strive for her best and support her teammates with hugs, cheers and perhaps start a Skittle tradition - just as she experienced with Rain City.

Mina Young
Mina was an active Rain City Flyer runner from the age of eight through freshman year in high school. She competed in five national JO cross country championships and five regional competitions for track and field from 2011 through 2015. She was a dedicated team member and was recognized for her commitment with the 2012 “No Excuses” award for missing the lowest number of practices.

Mina carried her interest in running to high school, earning Rookie of the Year from Ingraham’s cross country team and competing, with Anya and Lydia, in the state cross country meet in 2016 as part of the first girls’ team from Ingraham to qualify for the meet since the 1980s. Over time her interests and involvement shifted from running to academics and to community service and activism. She completed her full International Baccalaureate Diploma, earning college credits. And she served as an officer in the Human Rights Club and was active in the Feminism Club and National Honors Society.

RCF track and cross country remain a part of Mina’s community and volunteer activities. She has assisted at practices, served as a course monitor at the Stampede and helped manage field events at meets. Participation in Rain City was influential and significant for Mina, producing many meaningful childhood memories and lasting friendships. From capture the flag and potato chip relays at practices to days spent with teammates at meets and competitions, s he learned to work hard for something and enjoyed being on such a fun team – something she will pass on.

Mina will also be attending Occidental College this fall. She plans to study diplomacy and world affairs. While she does not have plans to participate in athletics, she does hope to continue lifelong running for fun-- which has always been an RCF goal.

Congratulations to our 2019 RCF Scholarship recipients! They join 12 past recipients as exemplary athlete/citizen role models, having truly demonstrated “... a commitment to working to achieve their personal best, both as an individual and as a member of the team.” We are proud of their accomplishments, within and beyond Rain City.

2019 Scholarship Committee Members: Dave Fort, Beth Jaculewicz, Gina Tait-Selenis, Susan & Jim Neff

RECOGNITION EVENT ON MONDAY, JUNE 3:   You are invited to come to an event on June 3 to recognize our 5 scholarship recipients.   The event will be at the Nathan Hale track (or adjacent thereto) immediately following the RCF track team's Monday practice, which ends about 7:30.   Treats will be served.

Since its creation in 20013, the RCF Scholarship fund has awarded 18 scholarships totalling $11,900, thanks to the generosity of RCF parent, friends and supporters.   Thank you!

2018 Rain City Scholarships Announced

Click here to download the 2019 Scholarship Application

History: The RCF Scholarship was established in 2013 by the cross country team parent group to recognize Jim Neff for his “. . . generosity and dedication to Rain City and our kids.” Since inception, the parents have collected funds which are designated for the Rain City Flyers Scholarship as an expression of thanks to Jim for his time, energy and effort for their children and for the hundreds of youth he has coached and guided to become responsible athlete/citizens of the world over his 25 years of coaching RCF.

Purpose of the scholarship: The RCF Scholarship recognizes a graduating high school senior with plans to further their education. The recipient will have participated with Rain City Flyers and demonstrated “... a commitment to working to achieve their personal best, both as an individual and as a member of the team.” Additionally, the recipient will be a recognized role model of an exemplary responsible athlete/citizen. In the absence of qualified high school senior applicants, the application process may be opened to current collegians.

2018 Scholarship Recipients

We are proud to announce the winners of the 2018 scholarships (download pdf):

Henry Gruen participated with Rain City from 2010 to 2014. He was a member of the 2011 All American 11-12-boys team that finished third at USATF Cross Country Nationals in Myrtle Beach. Henry credits RCF with teaching him many things. Through long and grueling races and in both successful and struggle-filled seasons he learned perseverance. He learned commitment from showing up to weekly practices and racing every Saturday. And he learned leadership as a 7th and 8th grader when he was an older member of the team.

Henry applied this learning when he moved on to high school at Seattle Prep. He ran all four years on the cross country and track teams and was captain of both. Henry is currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin where he runs on a club team.

Parker Rathbun joined the Rain City Flyers cross country team in 2008. He competed in several Junior Olympics national meets, becoming an individual All American in 2010 (7th place 9-10 boys) and a team All American in 2011 as a member of the third place RCF 11-12 boys team. Parker continued his running career at Bishop Blanchet High School, where he was captain of both the cross country and track teams.

For Parker, games at Rain City practices were a highlight of his day and competing with a team of friends was fun. What he didn’t realize until much later was that he was also learning dedication by showing up to practice and that through competing in races he was learning to build and maintain friendships. And most importantly, he was learning to persevere not only the snow, hail, and rain, but also the bad races. There was always the next day of training, a new season with teammates – who ultimately are what matter.

Parker is taking a gap year after graduating from Bishop Blanchet. He will continue school at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA in the fall of 2019, where he will run for the cross country and track teams.

Veronica Redpath moved to Seattle from out-of-state when she was in 7th grade and Rain City Flyers was a way for her to meet new people and make friends. In her four years with the team, she competed in JO cross country, finishing as high as 2nd at the Regional meet. Veronica attended Ballard HS where she was captain of both the XC and track teams and competed at the State XC meet all 4 years.

Running on the Rain City team helped Veronica develop confidence. She learned the value of practice, setting personal goals, and most importantly teamwork. The skills she learned with Rain City opened doors of opportunity that she enjoyed through high school, and now at the university level. Pursuit of that personal record and being a valued part of the larger team keeps Veronica motivated to compete and support the team.

Veronica is a freshman at California Lutheran University. She was the top freshman for the CLU Regals XC team and is on the track team. She is pursuing studies in film-making, theater and orchestra. Check out her short films on YouTube!
Congratulations to our 2018 RCF Scholarship recipients! They join all nine past recipients as exemplary athlete/citizen role models, having truly demonstrated “... a commitment to working to achieve their personal best, both as an individual and as a member of the team.” We are proud of their accomplishments, within and beyond Rain City.

2017 Scholarship Recipients

We are proud to announce the winners of the 2017 scholarships:

Leo Donlea joined Rain City in 2010 as a 5th grader afraid of racing. He came to practices, reluctantly raced, but stuck with it. By the next year he was a second scorer on a 3rd place JO national team. He wrote, “I didn’t really understand what that meant at the time, but I now know that that changed my life forever.” Leo credits the environment at Rain City, juxtaposing hard work and fun, as contributing to both his continuing running and academic success. He approaches both with tenacity and willingness to work hard. Leo competed in three state cross-country meets for Ingraham High School and has maintained a 3.9 GPA. He capped off his high school running career with a third place finish in the 3200 meters at State. Leo returned to Rain City after each season, competing in JOs or helping out with practices and even coaching a younger runner. He will attend the University of San Francisco studying biology with an eye toward sports medicine. Leo will continue to represent the blue and yellow in fun runs wearing his RCF singlet, which is traveling to SF with him!

Nora Fujita-Yuhas competed with the Rain City Flyers cross country team from 2008-2013. Following early success on her Bantam Girls team which won the JO Regional Championship, she had five years learning about “sweat, grit, and comradery.” She carried the determination and resolve learned running the inside and outside loops with RCF into her high school cross country and Ultimate Frisbee team experiences with Lakeside. Nora kept her connection to Rain City, volunteering at the Labor Day Half Marathon water table and assisting with the Meadowbrook Community Center track team. Photography has become an interest for Nora, who served as the Photography Editor of the Lakeside high school newspaper and has exhibited in shows at the Seattle and Bellevue Art Museums. She will attend Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA, studying photography and international relations. Racing may not be in Nora’s future, but she knows she will continue to run for her own health and happiness!

Christopher Walker loves to run. He started participation in cross country races in middle school and competed as an independent before finding the Rain City Flyers. Unlike most RCF runners who come to the program in grade or middle school, Christopher first competed as a Flyer as a high schooler at JO Nationals 2014 and in 2015. He planned to compete again following his high school XC season in 2016, but a sudden medical challenge forced a change in plans. For the remainder of his senior year Christopher focused his running mentality on regaining his health and graduation, living up to the O’Dea cross-country team awards he had received -- Most Inspirational, Most Improved and the Work Horse. Christopher notes that “… running is great but I enjoyed the sidelines too.” You’ll find him there when he’s not racing, encouraging others and being an inspirational role model for us all. Come autumn Christopher is heading to University of Puget Sound – where he plans to start a running club.

Alex Whalen competed with the Rain City Flyer cross country team from 2009-2013 and experienced three Junior Olympics Nationals. The highlight of his Rain City cross country career was a third place team finish in the 2011 Nationals in Myrtle Beach SC. Alex ran on the Ballard High School cross country team for two years and was on Ballard’s soccer team for four years. The next chapter of Alex’s life will be at the University of Oregon, where he plans to play club soccer and apply to his academics the lesson learned as a runner at RCF-- that hard work pays off.

Owen Whalen ran three seasons with Rain City Flyers, competing at two JO National meets, including as a member of the 11-12 boy’s teams that placed third in Myrtle Beach in 2011. He writes that as a Rain City runner he learned “… that hard work pays off, the value of teamwork, and that he is really good at sharks and minnows.” Owen put these lessons to use for four years on the Ballard High School soccer team. Come fall Owen will attend Western Washington University. He’s not decided on a major, but knows that he will play club soccer and take his RCF learning along. Perhaps he’ll teach his soccer team how to play sharks and minnows!

2016 Scholarship Recipients

We are proud to announce the winners of the 2016 scholarships:

Flora Davis competed with the Rain City Flyers cross country team from 2008-2014. In 2008 she was a member of the 9-10 girls team that finished second at the Junior Olympics National Championships in Richmond, Virginia. Flora continued to compete in cross country and track at Roosevelt HS. She was a 4 year letter winner in cross country and captain of both the cross country and track teams.
Starting at an early age, Flora states that “Rain City ignited by love of running, and it quickly became my favorite sport. I have grown stronger both mentally and physically through my pursuit of better races and faster times…” She has taken this “can-do” attitude to the University of Washington where she is pursuing a degree in the business program.
During her freshman year in Seattle at UW Flora showed her continuing support for the Rain City Flyers when she returned to the Stampede to volunteer as a course monitor. We look forward to her continuing connections.

Kyle Bretherton competed with the Rain City Flyer cross country team from age 8 through 14, where he was a committed team and individual competitor. He attended Lakeside Upper School where he continued to compete in both cross country and track and field, earning six varsity letters. He was captain of the cross country team as a senior. During the track season he competed not only in the distance events, but also as an unusual combination, in the pole vault. Kyle was a National Merit Scholar finalist and winner of the Lakeside Scholar-Athlete Award.
For Kyle, Rain City started as an activity to help “make it through the day without bouncing off the walls,” and grew to what he hopes will be a life-long passion. We hope running continues to serve him well at Dartmouth College where he is currently completing his freshman year.


2015 Scholarship Recipients

We are proud to announce the awarding of two scholarships this year, both to long-term Rain City team contributors who are current university students.

Kendall Sahl, is a Dean’s List student, entering her last year as an undergraduate at the University of Washington. Using AP credits and hard work, Kendall will finish her bachelor’s degree in three years. She writes, “My unyielding mental fortitude in the face of all challenges, academic or not, is a direct result of growing up as a cross-country athlete.” That growth started with Rain City Flyers, where Kendall competed on cross country teams from 2003-2009. She was a scoring member of Rain City’s 2005 Junior Olympics National Champion 9-10 girls team, and the JO Nationals third place 11- 12 girls team in 2006.

Kendall credits her involvement with Rain City as providing the foundation for her success in cross- country at Roosevelt High School where she competed from 2009-12. As a team captain she worked to build a supportive and fun team atmosphere “similar to the one that Rain City had constructed for me.”

While no longer running at a competitive level, Kendall continues to use the mental determination of cross country running to pursue her passions. We are pleased to be able to support Kendall completing her education. She hopes to apply her Human Centered Design and Engineering degree to developing products and services helping global organizations that support real people.

Jackson “Jack’” Pearce, the inaugural RCF Scholarship recipient for 2013-14, completed his freshman year at Gonzaga University, fulfilling pre-requisites for a BS in nursing. While achieving his academics, Jack was also a member of GU’s men’s cross-country and track teams, where he was named Outstanding Freshman. In addition to contributing on the course and track, Jack participated in Gonzaga athletics community events such as food drives. He writes, “ was as a member of Rain City that I learned my core philosophy ... to pursue what I love ... be serious about being my best and about enjoying every single moment of that process ...”

Jack joined Rain City Flyers as a bantam in 2005 and was a member of the cross country team for nine seasons. He was a USATF Junior Olympics All-American 4 times, including being national champion in 2005. Jack had an outstanding cross country and track career at Mountlake Terrace HS, where he was recognized as one of the Edmonds School District scholar athletes of 2014.

As a Rain City Flyer and beyond, Jack has been known for his mentorship and support for his teammates and all other competitors. We are pleased to support him and encourage his continuing efforts as a scholar-athlete

2014 Scholarship Recipients

The first RCF Scholarship, for the 2013-2014 season, was awarded to Jackson “Jack’” Pearce!

Jack graduated from Mountlake Terrace High School and will attend Gonzaga University pursuing a degree in nursing. Jack joined Rain City Flyers as a bantam in 2005 and was a member of the cross country team for nine seasons. He was a USATF Junior Olympics All-American 4 times, including being national champion in 2005. Jack had an outstanding cross country and track career at Mountlake Terrace HS, where he was recognized as one of the Edmonds School District scholar athletes of 2014.
While Jack always gave his personal best, where he truly separated from the field was in his support for his teammates and all other competitors. Jack is always the first to offer encouragement and congratulations to everyone in the race. As a Rain City Flyer he has been a mentor to many younger team members, both by the example he sets and by the encouragement and advice he shares with them. Jack will continue his commitment to running in Spokane, wearing Gonzaga Bulldog blue. But he remains a Rain City Flyer forever.

The Gallery

The Rain City Flyers Photo/Video Gallery is currently under construction. While we work on the details, feel free to take a look at the old Gallery. (This is a private area. For access, please request a password via the Contact Us page.)