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Vance Berry Runs with “Crazy” Idea

When W&L graduating senior Vance Berry runs, which he does a lot, he gets ideas.

“I did a really hard run a few weeks ago and a crazy question just popped into my head. I wondered if one of my favorite books, Running Formula by Jack Daniels, the world’s greatest running coach, had ever been translated into Spanish?” says Berry. “And, if not, then I wondered why not offer to translate it?”

The idea made sense, because Berry will be graduating from Washington and Lee University this year with a major in Spanish. He was the first person at W&L to win the Spanish award in his junior year, and the first to win the inaugural senior award in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. He also participated in the inaugural English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) service learning trip to the Dominican Republic in conjunction with the San Diego Padres and studied abroad in Costa Rica, interning with a municipal attorney.

The idea also made sense because Berry knows running. While at W&L, he has won numerous awards in cross country events, including the Old Dominion Athletic conference all four years. He also set both the indoor 5,000 meter school record and the outdoor 3,000 meter school record.

So Berry asked W&L cross country coach John Tucker, a longtime friend of the author Daniels, if he could find out whether the book had been translated into Spanish. “I knew it had been translated into Japanese and German, and maybe one other language, but I wasn’t sure about Spanish,” says Berry.

Sure enough, his instinct was right, and Daniels was excited at the prospect. Daniels, Berry and the publisher, Human Kinetics, have been busy since then setting up the deal. “It’s 300 pages and it could take me more than a year to translate it,” says Berry.

Tucker says that Berry is an outstanding runner and “one of the most dedicated I’ve ever coached.”

He adds that, while he speaks only English himself, he understands that translators bring nuances and some of their own personality to a translation. “Vance will definitely bring his knowledge and love of the sport into his interpretation of the book,” says Tucker.

While Berry is busy translating, he will be in Australia with his new bride, fellow W&L graduating senior Elizabeth Webb. She will be researching melanoma on a Fulbright award at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. The couple will wed July 25 in Lee Chapel on campus.

Long term, Berry wants to use his knowledge of Spanish to focus on international law. “It’s powerful to have a bilingual background, especially with 13 million people in the U.S. who only speak Spanish. There’s a lot you can do with the law to help these people if you speak the language,” he says.

W&L’s School of Law is his top choice. “I feel that I’ve really had a great four years at W&L. It’s been really special,” says Berry.  “I’d love to spend another three years here.”