The Cross Country Team Doubles in Size from the Previous Year

The+Cross+Country+Team+Doubles+in+Size+from+the+Previous+Year

By Chase Pray

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began last winter, many things have changed in our daily lives. From wearing a mask for eight hours a day to reducing large group gatherings, the school environment has changed drastically in the past year. So when hundreds of students returned from online school this school year, big changes were inevitable. One big change was the sheer number of kids who tried out for sports compared to last school year. The cross country team was one of the sports hit the hardest, as their team nearly doubled in size.

“We’ve got many kids coming in that were virtual last year,” Coach Kim Martin said. “We went from 19 runners last year to 31 this year because some of our runners didn’t compete last year as they were still weary about COVID seeing as it was still relatively new.”

While such a change may seem drastic for most teams, the cross country team gladly embraced it. Both Martin and Coach Keelin Russell love seeing more runners joining the team this year. As a personal trainer, Russell knows how to help groups of people bond and get to know each other better. 

“I’m heading into my third year of coaching cross country at North,” Russell said. “I’m a personal trainer so I’m not a gym teacher or even a teacher in general. As a trainer I build bonds with those I help. So, I know it’s so important for these kids to have strong bonds with their teammates. With so many more kids joining this year, it’s going to be so much easier for everyone to have a running buddy.”

Coaches and runners alike are embracing their new peers with open arms. Sophomore Sean Hartley is a new edition to the varsity team this year. Coming from the JV team last year to the varsity team can be intimidating however Hartley was one of 11 to join the varsity team.

“It’s definitely better with more runners because we have a better and more fun environment.” Hartley said. “Some of us are doing better because everyone sort of has a friend they are the same speed as and can run with.