Cross country team has welcoming culture

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CONTRIBUTED BY JOHN WERNER

The cross country team participates in meets throughout the year.

A new campus. Hundreds of strangers in the hallways. New teachers and norms to get used to. With all of these factors at play, making friends as a freshman can be tough. Cross country athletes believe it doesn’t have to be.

By creating a welcoming culture while demanding hard work and dedication at the same time, the cross country team not only creates athletes but also lasting friendships.

Cross country is a no-cut sport, meaning anyone who signs up will make the team and compete.

Sophomore Abby Jones said there are many benefits to signing up for a no-cut sport instead of a cut sport.

“With a cut sport, there was more of this mentality that I have to be good in order to stay or I have to be better, which took away from my experience of having fun, and that’s really important. Whereas with cross country, I wasn’t worried about doing really well in order to stay,” Jones said. “I was working hard because I wanted to work hard.”

While cross country doesn’t have cuts, senior captain Aidrian Seeger said that this doesn’t mean it isn’t a hard-working team.

“There are always some people who will treat no-cut sports as not up to the level of a cut sport, it’s sort of the sport that you go to if you need a sport credit,” Seeger said. “Even within a no-cut sport, it’s very clear where you belong, and it’s clear who works hard, who doesn’t work hard and you still have to put in the work.”

Boys varsity head coach Mike Glennon said people often underestimate the demands of the sport.

“It’s not easy. People think everybody can just run. It is not an easy sport to participate in because it takes passion, ability and it takes a lot of hard work to get good at,” Glennon said.

Although the expectations can be high and the practices demanding, Jones said the environment is very friendly with training groups.

“People introduce themselves to you. We want to be friends with everyone on our team and puts you in groups no matter who you are. If you’re lonely, you’re going to be in a group and they’re gonna want to be friends with you,” Jones said.

Seeger said the boys team also puts in time during the season to break down social barriers.

“We’ll have these special afternoon practices at Larz where we do fun games and team activities, it’s a lot more chill. We try to get to know each other and learn everyone’s names,” Seeger said.

Seeger said he didn’t have much experience before high school, but found success quickly.

“I didn’t have a whole lot of experience running. I knew that maybe I’d be good at it, so I just tried it, and I was already one of the top varsity athletes as a sophomore. If you’re consistent with being at practice and doing what you have to do, you can progress quickly,” Seeger said.

The boys cross country team has been one of the top teams in the state for several years and has won Bay State titles back to back. Glennon said the success of the team is a reason many people sign up and end up doing well themselves.

Glennon said people make lifelong friends from cross country as he experienced.

“It’s true of any team, but it’s certainly true of the cross country team that many kids meet their friends that they will have throughout high school from being part of this team,” Glennon said. “I started coaching at the school in 1995, so those people are now well into their forties and stay in touch. They stay in touch with each other and stay in touch with me, and many are still running.”