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Coach creates foundation to spark physical activity

Riverton coach Steve Galley took up running and a cause - a scholarship to help motivate students to physical activity.
Riverton coach Steve Galley took up running and a cause - a scholarship to help motivate students to physical activity.
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News

Pain and a distant dream were Steve Galley's constant companions as he strained to finish the final seven miles of his first marathon last month.

"I'm hurting," said the Riverton High boys basketball coach who completed something of a lifestyle overhaul with the race. Still recovering from a calf injury, he said he had to alter his pace and his running style in order to achieve a goal he set for himself last year.

"It's probably the hardest thing I've ever done," he said. "I had to think about all of the reasons I was running."

Those reasons are the students he hopes will improve their lives through exercise. It is what Galley did this past year, and he is so fervent in his belief that good health can change lives that he's now working to fund a scholarship for students at Riverton High who can demonstrate how athletics or exercise have transformed their lives.

Galley wasn't always a couch potato.

In high school he was a three-sport athlete, and in college he played football. The coach said it was "having a real job and kids" that sidelined him.

He might have remained comfortably on that couch were it not for a visit to his doctor, in which he was informed he had high cholesterol.

"I wanted to see what I could do with good food and exercise," said Galley, who went from 248 to 200 in the last 12 months. Losing weight, however, wasn't enough.

"I decided I'd set a goal to run a marathon," he said.

Galley, who had never run a race before the Park City Marathon in August, decided to combine his weight-loss goals with a long-time desire to start a scholarship fund for Riverton High students.

He teamed with the Jordan Education Foundation, the result being a fund that anyone can contribute to. Galley hoped the Riverton community will get behind the fund, inspiring young people to participate in endurance races from 5Ks and marathons and even triathalons to raise money for the fund.

"I am trying to mobilize the Riverton community," he said. "I want people who are participating in these events to get pledges from friends, family, businesses and raise money for the scholarship fund. We have to raise $20,000 to create a perpetual fund ... It might take years to reach the goal, but I'm prepared for that."

Galley even has plans for a relay event in May at Riverton High that will also help raise money for the fund, which has no administrative costs since it is set up through the Jordan Education Foundation.

It was his desire to create the scholarship fund and his admiration for some of his former athletes and students that kept him running during those final miles of that marathon.

"I thought about the scholarship fund, and friends and players," he said. "Like Tyler Daines, one of the managers for our basketball team who had spinal bifida. He just lives and breathes Riverton basketball, and thinking of him made it easier."

He doesn't just want students who've always loved sports to apply or benefit from the fund.

"I want them to show evidence of a significance health and fitness transformation while in high school," Galley said. "I want them to show how it's helped them in life and in school."

Anyone interested in helping raise money for the fund can contact Galley at Riverton High at 256-5800 or for more information on the fund go to www.rivertonbasketball.com.

As for his racing future, Galley said he will tackle another marathon.

"I totally fell in love with the whole atmosphere of the race," he said. "It was one of the coolest experiences of my life."


E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com