High school was a roller coaster for me, as I’m sure it was for almost every other student. However, one thing that definitely helped me deal with it was cross country. It changed where I thought I was going to go 3 years ago and altered my future.
I started running cross country my sophomore year after one of my friends told me I should practice with him. I ran 5 miles that day, and really enjoyed it. I kept going back day after day. That season, we were the third best team in the city. I kept going back until I became captain of the team my senior year, and I’m really lucky to have found that team.
Cross country is definitely not the best choice if you want to be a part of something that doesn’t require much work. 10 mile runs, 400 meter intervals with little rest, 8 mile runs at Berkeley (with half of that being uphill), meets that last all day, etc. However, the rewards trump all the pain and sacrifices that come with joining.
Being part of a team in which everyone runs the same distance and knows exactly what you’re going through is an incredible feeling. You know that when someone says they know how you feel, they really do know how you feel. When you’re feeling down after a race (or at any moment), they’re all there for you. When you’re in the middle of a 3 mile race, you can hear your team cheering you on. When you want to give up in the middle of a workout because you don’t feel motivated to run, they’re right behind you saying that they won’t keep going unless you go with them. This is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons for why I loved every second I spent with that team.
There are many ways cross country has helped me. Before cross country, whenever someone asked about my future, college was never really an option, and actually, I planned on joining the army. I believed school wasn’t for me and that it was just a waste of time and money. Of course, once I joined cross country, I started meeting people who helped me change that belief.
Also, having had a difficult upbringing, cross country helped me have somewhere else to go after school. I met people that I could talk to whenever I need someone, and even when I went into foster care and was sent to Tracy, the beginning of the 2nd semester my junior year, the team checked up on me making sure I was okay. It wasn’t until I came back that I really knew they loved me, though. When I came back, a bunch of my teammates ran to me and hugged me. At that moment, I knew I had another family at school.
Without cross country, I would probably not have met Coach Keough, and had that not happened, I don’t think anyone would have ever sat me down and told me the importance of college. I would probably have still wanted to join the army instead of getting ready to attend USF in the fall. What makes this even crazier, is that all these things happened simply by a friend asking me to go for a run.