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Gorby family ties to YSU, Boardman

Submitted photo / Charlotte Gorby -- From left are: Keith, Julia, Beau and Brian Gorby. Brian, the YSU cross country and track and field coach, and Keith, a former YSU distance standout, watch their children run for their alma mater, Boardman.

BOARDMAN — Beau Gorby hears the familiar voices as his running spikes spray a bit of the grass and dirt below each step of the 3.1-mile course.

The Boardman High School senior fights a mental and physical battle to push himself past the competition toward a better time and place that day. The individual struggle lasts less than 20 minutes, but Gorby said his family’s support motivates him.

He hears his uncles Keith and Kevin, his mother Charlotte — his sister Jersey and great uncle Donald at different points around the course.

“It’s neat,” Beau said. “Every time I go to a race, I hear all the Gorbys cheering way across the area. I can hear them from the opposite end of the course. It helps me run a lot. It helps you go a lot to faster.”

This year, he hears another voice that would’ve been with his Youngstown State University cross country teams in South Bend, Ind., this past weekend.

Beau’s father, Brian, is the YSU track and field and cross country coach. This time of the year, he’s usually at meets with the Penguins, but the COVID-19 pandemic placed all Olympic sports on hold throughout the country.

He not only gets to see his son, Beau, run, but also his niece, Julia. She also is a Boardman High School senior.

“With all the challenges we’ve had, I feel for all the kids that don’t have a season,” Brian said. “A little silver lining as a father is to see my son and my niece run and to see all their races.”

Julia, who ran her personal best time of 19:20.60 this season, said it’s nice to have her uncle out there with the rest of the family on the course.

“It’s nice having that family aspect, having my entire family, even my mom, stepdad and baby brother, seeing them on different points on the course,” Julia said. “At one point, they’ll all be in the same spot. It echos for miles, hearing all them yelling is just amazing. It’s comforting in a way to know they’re all there watching.”

There’s a history there for the Gorbys.

Brian, 53, is a 1985 Boardman graduate. Keith, 49, graduated Boardman in 1989. Their other two brothers are Kevin (51, 1989) and Paul (47, 1991).

Paul lives in Kansas City, but Jersey, who is a YSU freshman, had Periscope going during last month’s Spartan Invitational at Boardman so Paul could see. Jersey put in her own commentary.

“It’s really cool in this day and age with Zoom and everything out there, even though we’re all distancing like we need to do, they’re able to see what they need to see,” Keith said.

He’s seen his daughter, Julia, overcome a hernia and stress fracture at Boardman.

The two spend Friday evenings at Olive Garden before Julia races on Saturday.

Julia wants to run for the Naval Academy next year, or apply for a NROTC Scholarship at another college. According to military.com, The NROTC Program was established to educate and train qualified young men and women for service as commissioned officers in the Naval Reserve or Marine Corps Reserve. Either way, Julia wants to run in college.

“For her, it’s what we’ve always done,” Keith said. “I put my daughter first. I always put my kids first before everything else. To see her succeed like she’s doing on her own now, it ties you up a little bit.”

Keith, who used to coach cross country at Canfield and Cardinal Mooney High Schools, said Beau has improved from a 22-minute runner to the No. 2 guy on the Boardman boys team.

“It’s not in the name. He just works hard,” Keith said.

Beau ran his personal best of 16:33 at the Oct. 3 Vermilion Invitational.

Beau’s time put him 24th all time on Boardman’s boys cross country list, joining Brian, Keith and Kevin. Kevin and Keith are Boardman Hall of Fame inductees, while Keith is in the YSU Hall of Fame.

Brian, as much as he’s an accomplished distance coach, said he’s a father when it comes to Beau.

“We like to cheer, yell. My wife cheers, yells, takes pictures and sends them to everybody and communicates like a parent,” Brian said. “In our world, it’s a lot more fun, a lot less pressure. It’s a different kind of pressure, hoping he does well. He’s so even-keeled and down to earth. He’s been around it his whole life as far as the running, the competition. He has a level head, which we’re proud of him. That’s all due to his mom with us (YSU) traveling all over the country.”

Beau said his goal is to compete at YSU next season as a distance runner, being coached by his father.

“It’ll be very weird knowing he’ll be my head coach if everything goes well,” Beau said. “It’ll be very fun to do. I think I would enjoy it a lot.”

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