Ask any runner in Rochester about a place to buy running shoes or attire and you’ll likely be told to try TerraLoco, the small-but-popular active lifestyle and run specialty store on 16th Street SW in Rochester. TerraLoco offers a wide variety of athletic and active lifestyle wear, but if you find TerraLoco on its social media channels, you’ll also find a community of runners and Rochester-area citizens who engage in the store’s group runs, educational opportunities, and fitness challenges. Recently, members of RCLS’s cross-country team participated in one of TerraLoco’s Monday night $5 5K runs, a weekly charity run that the store hosts for local causes. Since RCLS seeks to be an educational community that serves and that shapes a generation of students who practice generosity, cross-country coaches were delighted to engage our students in TerraLoco’s effort to support Hiawatha Homes in early October. This was a rewarding opportunity for our young runners to get in a 5K practice at the same time that they used their time and talent to support a local charity. We also thought it was great fun to run into a former RCLS Bobcat: the store’s owner, Tiffany (Schulz) Piotrowicz.
When Tiffany moved to Rochester in 1987 with her family, she was a sweet (maybe it was spunky?) 1st-grader whose parents offered her a voice in where she was to attend school. After attending a Preschool and Kindergarten in a Lutheran school in Florida, Tiffany’s 1st-grade self decided to “try something different,” so her parents enrolled her in the public-school system here in town. “I must not have liked it,” she says, because after that year, she “wanted to go back to private school for 2nd grade.” So it was that RCLS became Tiffany’s school––all the way through 8th grade.
As she considers her seven years of school at RCLS, Tiffany recalls teachers who shaped her interests, abilities, and self-confidence. She remembers a 4th-grade teacher, for example, who “went out of her way to try to make [her] a better, more organized student,” though, she jokes, “It didn’t work!” (We aren’t sure we believe her since she does run a successful business, after all.) Tiffany also recalls a middle-school English teacher who encouraged her love of writing, a foundation that would inform her later course of study in college when she completed an undergraduate double major in English and Paralegal Studies and a master’s degree in English. At RCLS, she also remembers having music teachers who were “instrumental” (Tiffany’s word choice, not mine—but clever, don’t you think?) in developing her music and performance skills, which served to make her “a more confident person,” she gratefully notes.
And what about other memories––the friends, activities, and traditions that make up so much of the RCLS experience? Perhaps you won’t be surprised to hear that Tiffany loved running, even then. “My favorite RCLS memory is probably the track meets,” she says. “I was actually pretty good at running. I still have my blue ribbons for the relays [from the] all-school track meet that took place on campus.” That annual event, what we now call the RCLS Field Day, was something Tiffany and her friends anticipated with a lot of excitement. “The high jump was set up in the gym. The running events were out on the field.” It was so much fun, she remembers, in part “because it was an officially sanctioned day off of school,” she laughs. And, of course, there were those blue ribbons. Who doesn’t think a 1st-place finish or two is fun, right?
As a Bobcat, Tiffany was also active in jazz band and pop choir, and running was not her only extracurricular athletic activity. Basketball, too, was a favorite family pastime. “One of our family’s fondest memories [of RCLS] involves my sister’s basketball team,” Tiffany begins, as she starts to tell a story that will surely make you chuckle. “Their coach was Troy Reinke, a family friend who, sadly, passed away from ALS several years ago. Their team was exceptionally bad, and my sister and her friends would always dribble themselves into the corner and get boxed in. Every. Single. Time. We still joke about it when our family gets together for holidays.”
OK, so we didn’t say that every moment as a Bobcat is victorious, but we do know extracurricular activities often facilitate friendship, and we are encouraged to know that friends Tiffany made years ago remain in her life today. “I am still friends with several of the people that I met at RCLS in 2nd grade,” she reports. “Some of them were in my wedding and I in theirs.” With some RCLS friends, she has lost touch, but she is still able to follow along with their lives because “our mothers still chat,” she laughs. “I am always learning what so-and-so is up to!”
As Tiffany remembers her days as a Bobcat, she notes that she hears such great things about RCLS now. At the $5 5K run in early October, RCLS cross-country runners asked Tiffany if she was on the team when she was a student. “We didn’t even have a cross-country team then,” she told them. “I was there when they built the addition [the library wing],” she later told me. “I believe I was only in the new addition for 8th grade. The gym was built when I was there, too,” she marvels. “The school was in such a growth phase.”
Now, she observes, RCLS students have the benefit of so many extracurricular activities and quality classrooms and equipment. “I know several people who send their kids to RCLS, and they love it,” Tiffany notes. I assured her that this is so. Beyond the growth of the facilities in her day, innumerable updates and additions to the school’s programming in recent years and the addition of resource services and enrichment and accelerated learning opportunities have made Rochester’s oldest private school a uniquely desirable place to find a foundational education, one that effectively sets the course for future stages of learning and living in the contemporary world.
And how about Tiffany and TerraLoco? We might expect growth there, too. The store opened in 2012, and since Tiffany took over in 2015, TerraLoco has continued to prosper, so much so that its owner is currently in the process of considering new locations for expansion. Tiffany and her husband, Josh, who works in the Biochemical Genetics lab at Mayo Clinic, are grateful to call Rochester their home, where Tiffany is constantly inspired by “everyday people, doing everyday things––going about their business [and] being kind in the world, despite everything whirling around them.” This is, no doubt, what underlies the $5 5K runs that the store facilitates every Monday night, March through October. As a small business owner, Tiffany knows there is a lot at stake. “The risk of failure [as a business] is high,” she explains, “so I know that I have to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.” Being a part of the community is part of that work, but it is also Tiffany’s opportunity to be “kind in the world” by supporting local organizations doing the same. We calculate that her effort is multiplied as she engages runners in the Rochester community. A recent social media post reports that TerraLoco’s weekly $5 5K has raised more than $8300 for local charities this year. This is an impressive collective effort for a small store and a much-needed gift for local charities working to serve our community’s needs.
But, then, Bobcats always do amazing things, and once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat, we like to say.
You can find TerraLoco online at runterraloco.com, or, better yet, stop in the store to run into Tiffany, yourself.
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