Rituals bond cross country teams throughout season


Yogesh Aradhey

Senior Stuart Baker leads the boys cross country team cheer.

By Victoria Giron, Harrisonburg HS, Harrisonburg, Va.

A team is bonded by its traditions and rituals, and the cross country team is no exception. The boys and the girls cross country teams are two separate entities, and therefore each have their own traditions.

Cross country is an individual sport, so there are some athletes who have their own pre-meet traditions, like freshman Joel McNett.

“I usually just try to mentally go through a race and think about what I need to do to keep going,” McNett said.

I have my lucky socks that I always wear when I race, and I kind of think about the race when I’m tying my shoes — that’s just when I get focused.”

— Hannah Purcell, senior

Senior Hannah Purcell has a lucky charm that she brings to every meet.

“I have my lucky socks that I always wear when I race, and I kind of think about the race when I’m tying my shoes — that’s just when I get focused,” Purcell said. Purcell wore her first pair of lucky socks so often that she had to replace the hole-ridden socks last year.

Senior Stuart Baker recalls how coach Lauren Jefferson prepares the team as a whole before a meet.

“Usually we prepare like a day before and when we have practice the coach will talk about the meet and the coach will tell us what she wants us to do and then more often than not, the night before races we have a team dinner at somebody’s house and eat spaghetti because it’s good for you,” Baker said.

The boys cross country team also meets up right before they begin a meet.

“The coach will reiterate what she said yesterday. She’ll tell us what we need to do to do well on this course and against these teams and then we just race,” Baker said.

The boys cross country team also have a cheer that they say before a meet.

“It’s kind of reminiscent of our home course which is Burtner Farm and there’s a hill there called ‘The Wall’ so we scream, ‘Balls to the Wall!’,” Baker said.

Baker said that the phrase was a result of something Jefferson once said.

“She used that phrase one time when talking about running and then we all thought it would be a good idea for a cheer because it’s our home course, and it’s kind of fun to say,” Baker said.

Freshman Meredith Goss enjoys the team cheer that the girls cross country team does.

“We always do this cheer that always gets us going, Coach Loughran usually leads it, and if he’s not there then the whole team does it and it gets us really pumped up,” Goss said.

The cheer goes something along the lines of “Lady Navy, If you’re ready say you’re ready,” to which the “Lady Navy” replies “I’m ready!”

The girls cross country team also has a famous “We [Dang] Sexy Day” where they dress up.

“It’s always the day after the district or conference meet. It’s our version of sexy, so we dress in classy clothes. You dress in something you feel sexy in,” Purcell said.

Although cross country is an individualistic sport, the teams, both boys and girls are close knit groups.

“We have lots of fun together and encourage each other as a group,” said McNett.

Goss agrees with McNett’s sentiments.

“We support each other and tell each other, ‘Good job!’” Goss said.

Through these rituals, cross country runners strengthen their bonds with each other, contributing to their performances in meets as well.

View original story