By Gabe Sturges
Beginning with the inaugural issue of this year’s Concordiensis, our approach to sports reporting has markedly changed. So often, the incredible, frenetic and gloriously unpredictable landscape of athletics is transformed into something decidedly calculated and equally dreary. Wins and losses, team records and personal bests, overshadow the very essence of sporting competition: the people taking part in it.
In our modern, results-driven world, overrun with multi-million dollar sports contracts and equally large promotional deals, the fan base often see “their” team’s new acquisition as simply another object in the pursuit of a championship title. However, I vehemently argue that such an approach ruins the purity of sports at its true basis. By that, I refer to the beautifully simple premise of inuring oneself mentally and physically—a struggle against others and, more formidably, against oneself. I refer to the bonding of individuals who become dear friends based upon a commonly held passion. I refer to the quaint and often overlooked fact that these athletes simply enjoy to play. For that reason, in this fall’s coverage of the men’s and women’s cross country teams, I will report results, but focus more so on the athletes—the people—behind them.
So often, I am asked to explain what compels me to run as I do. To venture out on a near daily basis, regardless of clime or place, and wage an on-going battle with the tarmac beneath my feet. What causes someone to take a motion as inherently natural as putting one foot in front of the other and doing so until exhaustion?
The desires and motivations to run are as numerous as the people who participate in it, eliciting emotions infinitely more complex than the simple act of churning one’s legs. As such, I would do a disservice if I attempted to recount another’s experiences on my own accord. Instead, I’ve asked the senior members of the men’s and women’s cross country teams to present their deep-rooted enthusiasm in their own terms. Despite four different accounts, they all present a tone of defiance. Running lets them combat the often unpleasant realities of everyday life, transforming trepidation into something from which they all draw great comfort and pride.
Kaileigh Moore ’12:
“I guess I started running mainly because of the girls on the Saratoga track team. I met the varsity girls’ team when I was 7 years old… At the time they were National Champs for a few years running. Most of the seniors usually raked in full scholarships, and the girls were on the front page of the local papers weekly. To me they were like superstars… They were my idols growing up. While most kids dreamed about being astronauts, or famous athletes, or whatever, all I wanted was to eventually be on that team.
The reason I continue to run today is because of the feeling of accomplishment I get after every workout, even the terrible ones where my times suck. I’ve been told by doctors that I wasn’t built to run, and I’ve been told to just give up and try something else. I enjoy defying the odds and doing things that people tell me I can’t… and I love running too much to ever just give it up.
On top of all that, running is the one thing that really helps me feel like I’m winning this battle with diabetes… It’s a manageable disease, but there are days when it takes total control and wreaks havoc on your body. Those days can crush you physically and emotionally, but the days where I can go out and pound out great workouts or run awesome races are the days that bring me back from that. I always think about how many healthy people can’t do what I do athletically, and then about how I do it, but with the added complication of diabetes. It makes me feel good about myself and my dedication to something I love so much—I feel like I’ve accomplished something that the majority of people in this country can’t. Plus, I know that some day I’ll probably succumb to the complications of diabetes, but for now I’m in control.
Lastly, I stay in it for the camaraderie. Track teams are like families. My closest friends from high school are my teammates, and I feel like my best friends here are too. There’s nothing like that cross country home away from home! Someone’s always got my back.”
Anna Sise ’12:
“I realized I loved running when I was playing eighth grade soccer. My favorite part of practice was when we would run two laps around the field. Running for me is a way to disconnect and connect at the same time. I can run away from everything that is stressing me out and bothering me. Thinking only about making it through a run or up a tough hill or through a fast speed workout makes other problems disappear for a little while. It’s a nice break from the hectic-ness. In breaking away from the craziness of day to day life, it makes it easier to form bonds with teammates. Something about running with a team leads to a connection you can’t find many other places. I really love the way running makes you feel happy and free and great!”
Ramsey Steiner ’12:
“I started running track in eighth grade and started running long distance in track and cross country when I was a sophomore in high school. Even though our distance team was successful, my high school coach really taught all of his runners to love to run and didn’t get overly absorbed in meet results. I loved running in high school with my twin sister and I loved competing. I still love pushing myself to get faster and faster so I can beat a PR. My older sister was always a soccer player, but she started running half-marathons when she was in college. Whenever I go home for breaks, or visit my sisters, we always run together.
Since I’ve come to college, I’ve learned to love long runs even though I’m technically a mid-distance runner. At this point, I run every day for a variety of reasons. I compete throughout the school year and at practice I run so I can get faster at meets on the weekends. When I’m not in season, I run when I want to be outside, I’m stressed, or avoiding my work. A lot of my friends are runners, so I love to go on long, slow runs with them to talk and catch up. Running always makes me feel better. After I run, my mind is clearer, I’m less stressed and I’m in a better mood.”Ian Schwartz ’12:
“Running is really all I know. I’ve been doing it since seventh grade and been a part of the sport since my brother started when he was in seventh grade. Essentially, for the last 11 years, running has been a part of my life in some way shape or form. What compels me to run has changed over time as I have evolved into a more mature person and runner. This season will be my final season competing as an athlete running for a team. As I look back on my running career I see many things. I see many triumphs but I also see many struggles.
Why do I run? I’ve realized I run for those struggles. For those times that are hard, because after all, you learn more when you have to overcome something. For people who know me, they know that I have had a lot of injuries, a lot of seasons cut short or filled with painful runs that have challenged me to push myself to the next level. I run to learn, I run to hurt, I run to clear my mind, and ultimately I run because I enjoy it.”