Graduating may have stopped Rene Plasencia from running at UCF, but not in life. The former UCF track and field runner is in yet another race — this time, to become a house representative for the state of Florida. With a landslide victory in the primaries, Plasencia is on the last leg of his sprint toward congress.
Plasencia and a few of his teammates founded the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, or SAAC, in 1994 after the athletic department decided to discontinue the UCF men’s track team. Plasensia acted as the committee president for two years until he graduated. He used it to give athletes a mouthpiece to speak up for not only themselves, but for their teammates as well.
During his senior year, the men’s cross country team coach resigned just before the season started. The university didn’t hire a replacement until the next year, so in the meantime, Plasencia acted as the team’s leader.
Now, as the cross-country coach at Colonial High School, Plasencia continues his passion to actively lead and inspire.
“I always felt like I wasn’t just a coach, but I was part of the team. I did every run with the boys,” he said.
One practice, while running with the boys, a student collapsed on the track due to an unknown heart condition. Plasencia and several other administrators rushed to his side and immediately began to administer CPR until the ambulance arrived, which ultimately saved the boy’s life. Plasencia was awarded the Civil Award of Merit for his efforts.