Behind the Scenes of a Cross Country Season

by Caitlin O’Brien

Running is usually something that most people view as agonizing or a form of torture. At least that’s what I have gathered by most people when I say I run cross country. They picture it as the thing they force themselves to do at the gym for fifteen minutes or just something they had to do to pass a gym class.

But there is much more to running; it can be an escape from your everyday life and can help create lasting bonds with people. The “cross country team is super close and supportive,” said Lauren O’Donnell, a captain of this year’s team. She said that one of her favorite aspects about the team is the social aspect. Whether it is pushing another player to cross the finish line or meeting up on Saturday mornings at Tod’s Point, the team helps each other to be better at running.

Elizabeth Biederman, another captain of the team, said that, “Although XC does not have the traditional ‘pass the ball’ teamwork, we work together in different ways.” There are so many more ways than suspected to help and motivate your teammates, like cheering on your them as they cross the finish line or pushing your friends to go on longer runs to make varsity time in their next meet. As one can imagine, training is a big part of runners’ everyday lives. At least six days a week, cross country runners are expected to be at practice, including Saturdays at 8 AM. Sundays are easy run days or break days.

The girls cross country team also has high expectation to uphold, with receiving fourth place at the FCIAC meet this year and first place last year. Lauren stated that “I think one of my greatest accomplishments has been being a captain while such a great group of girls has dominated the FCIAC.”

But, for many athletes, cross country is not the only sport they do. Caroline Webb, another captain this year, also swims year-round for the YWCA dolphins and has a minor role in the upcoming production of The Nutcracker.

Most people on the team, though, run cross country along with other running related sports, like indoor track and or spring track. Thus, many team members are full time runners and barely take a break. Caroline, for example, stops training in June and starts again in July.

For the captains this year, this is their last time running cross country. Senior year is an overall stressful time, but on top of that, they also had work as captains to do. For most of them, that meant giving up Saturdays to organize, help train other athletes, conversing with parents about senior day and ordering apparel. They were all exposed to the “inner workings” of the cross country team, as Lauren said. But this is a bittersweet time in their lives, even though it was hard for these girls to balance school work, college applications, other clubs, and cross country they all found ways to work around that, teaching them invaluable life lessons. Elizabeth says, “I could not imagine my high school experience without cross country”, and also went on to say that this sport has taught her about true teamwork and working together.

Caroline only started running last year, but had proven to be one of the best girls on the team, as she had made it to the State Opens last year in her first year of running. And Lauren, who has been running since she was a freshman, said that cross country has taught her she can grasp things she “never thought were attainable through the pain of running.”

All of these girls were once scared and inexperienced, who were scared out of their minds to attend their first cross country practice. Now, years later they have grown and learned so much from this sport. They were all at different levels before joining, but still took the risk and did it and created lasting friendships as well. These girls attributed so much to this great cross country season, and made it an unforgettable one.

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