SKXC 2015 – “WE ARE A DIFFERENT BREED”
I run for fun. This is a perplexing notion to most people, and the sport of running- specifically cross country- may not be fully understood unless one runs or has run cross country. The sport requires extensive training with a precisely planned workout schedule in order to excel. Therefore, great success comes only with great difficulty.
This difficulty has shackled South Kitsap’s boys team for the past 10 years-2004 was the last year a boys team competed in the state meet. No powerful urgency has arisen to try and break this streak, until this year.
Our boys team this year has a chance, and we have created this chance through hard work and dedication. At the end of the school year, there are a few practices before summer starts. This past year, my fellow captain and I knew how we could bring a team to state-a summer of rigorous training. We held a meeting with the boys on the team, expressed our determination to go to state, and the cooperation and dedication needed in order to make this a possibility: “If you are home, you will be at summer conditioning”. After this meeting, and avid recruiting efforts by our head coach, a shift occurred. Summer conditionings were held 5 days a week, and a consistent turnout of around 30 kids changed the entire dynamic of our team. In past summers 10 kids at a summer conditioning would be considered “a good turnout”. The season is almost over, and the summer months have made an immense difference in the strength of our team. We are in much better shape at this point of the season than we have been in past years, and are also working harder and having more fun.
A culture of hard work is supported by a foundation of team chemistry, which is achieved through team bonding. Every Thursday before Saturday invitationals, the team gets together for a dinner. Traditionally the dinner is held at an athlete’s house; however this year we held two in our coach’s classroom (she teaches culinary). The time spent preparing and eating allows for bonding, and learning more about each other. Whether we eat spaghetti at a teammate’s house or “breakfast for dinner” in our coach’s classroom, we have a blast.
Ultimate Frisbee also fosters team chemistry through direct teamwork and friendly competition. Although “ultimate” is an altogether different sport, it has weaved its way into the cross country culture. For many runners on the team, ultimate is the highlight of their week.
Overall team bonding is important, however connecting with the teammates one will actually run with is vital. The varsity boys have stepped up this year and our commitment has translated into time spent running outside of practice. Morning runs take place 2-3 times a week, and for inexplicable reasons, running at 6 in the morning is fun. Some things in the sport of cross country not even runners themselves can explain. We also run long every Sunday. These Sunday long runs are relaxing and lighthearted; because we athletes choose when, where, and how long we run, the freedom of running is accentuated. I click ‘start’ on my watch and when I look down again we have been running for 75 minutes.
I love my team. The team works hard, has fun, and enjoys running. One could ask for no more. South Kitsap Cross Country is a fast and fun family, and I am grateful to be a member.