During my first semester attending CHC, I participated in cross country as a sport. The experience of participating in a college sport, in my eyes, completely changes your outlook during college. The extra work you have to put into the sport on top of your college studies, for me, is slightly challenging at certain times in the semester. However, the discipline playing a sport instils in you as a person definitely makes up for the two hours or more a day you delegate to practice. I have gained determination, discipline and strength of will from running 'XC for CHC.'
The XC program at Chestnut Hill is coached by Philip Reilly and assistant coach Alex Hershman. Coach Phil expects dedication and hard work from each member on his team, but as long as you are willing to work, he is willing to train you to your potential. Alex knows a huge amount about running in general, from running form, to muscle health and nutrition and he is a great motivator during practices and meets. Both coaches absolutely love the program, and do all they can to drive it forward. I have learned an incredible amount from both of them, and everyone on the team this year has really improved, including me.
The Basics about Cross Country
For those of you who don’t really know much about cross country, I’ll give you the basics.
In college, the women’s XC race is 6k or about 3.7 miles. The men’s XC race is typically run as an 8k, which is almost exactly five miles. During regionals and nationals however, the course is a 10k or about 6.25 miles.
Sidenote: Personally, I think it’s stupid to change the distance for such important meets, but I don’t make the rules, I just complain about them.
Usually runners will wear XC spikes on every course, if they are competitive. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like because officials won’t cancel the meet unless lightning is striking all around the course or the officials think it is too hot to run. Personally, in high school and college I’ve run in pouring rain, in the snow, and in temperatures of just over 100 degrees. XC is always run during the fall, because track is always conducted during the spring. I won’t bore you with how the teams are scored, but each team consists of the top five members who are counted and the next two fastest who can displace the other teams. So the seven fastest runners can influence who wins the meet.
Like a Family
The XC program at CHC is very good in my eyes. All fall sports start a week before classes start, so I met my team members and coaches before I met anyone else. The XC team is kind of like a family. Almost all of us this year will be together on the team for all four years of college as six of the starting seven on the team are freshman. We do a lot of stuff together, and I really like my teammates. That atmosphere is something else I really like about college sports. I had a group of friends at college before I had taken a single class, and while I’ve made some other friends during my first semester, I really appreciate my team. Because I am also in the honors program at CHC, I cannot spend quite as much time with my team as I would like outside of practice, but what time I do spend with them I enjoy.
I think you can really tell if you enjoyed and appreciated a sport, or anything for that manner, by asking yourself, "If you could turn back time to before to played the sport that year, what would you do?"
If you say you would play it again, you know that the experience was worth it. I don’t even have to think about that question. If I had the chance to run XC for another year, I would do it in a second. Running for CHC is one of the best things about college for me, and I can’t wait for track season to come around this spring so I can continue to do what I love!