For Wolf ‘s Physical Education/Health teacher Michael LaRose, coaching cross country is hardly a new endeavor. But when you’re coaching a team at Wolf, every year can feel just as rewarding as the first.
This year’s cross country team consists of 12 students in grades 6-8. Practice began the first week of September and will continue through the first week of November. Students are joined twice a week by Coach Mike and fellow Wolf staff members Ally Kureck and Meg Jackson for an hour-long practice. With some returning students and some students completely new to running, this season is sure to be an exciting one! Running is not only great exercise with plenty of health benefits, but it is also a great outlet for both stress and anxiety, providing Complex Learners with an excellent strategy that they can carry over into their daily lives and for many years to come.
With the team already hard at work, we asked Coach Mike what sticks out to him about this particular set of students?
“This is a very motivated group,” Coach Mike stated, explaining that many of the team members meet up outside of practice to continue their training. Whether it’s getting together during a day off to practice running at Colt State Park, signing up on their own for a 5K, or even taking an opportunity while on vacation in Jerusalem to run during a holiday while the streets were closed, this group has found their passion for running. But in addition to running, they’ve also discovered how passionate they are about being on a team and learning what it takes to be a good teammate.
This is the first time many of our students have been on any type of team, and they do not take that responsibility lightly. Fully committed not only to the sport but also to each other, the team goes out of their way to support each other. This invaluable lesson is something Coach Mike reminds them to remember outside of the sport. “We’re a team everywhere,” Coach Mike tells the students. “Whether you’re in class, at lunch, or at recess, you should still be a team player and your teammates will always have your back.”
Lessons like that are one of the key reasons Complex Learners benefit from team sports at Wolf. Not only are they receiving the encouragement that’s so important to their self-esteem and developing friendships they once struggled with making, students are also discovering important life lessons along the way. One that sticks out to Coach Mike is pushing through your fear and accomplishing something you initially didn’t want to do. Coach Mike has witnessed this many times, like when a student who is initially hesitant about running, gets to that starting line ready to conquer those fears. Coach Mike hopes lessons like this stay with students even when they’re out of cross country and one day out of Wolf. He tells his runners, “All those things you think may be bad, just give it a try.”
Our students are just as impressive on the course as they are off of it, demonstrating their skills at Wolf’s first meet on Friday, October 14th at Wheeler Farm. Out of 96 male runners, 6th grader Troy Silvestri came in 14th for a 1.7 mile run with a time of 12:15. Out of 62 female runners, 6th grader, Meredith O’Mara came in 31st with a time of 15:15. All the students who ran last year continue to improve, moving up many spots this year. With two fun runs already planned, one at Linear Park and another at East Bay Bike Path, we have no doubt they will hit their stride! We are so impressed by this team for all they’ve accomplished both in practice and beyond.