Six days a week during Cross Country season, you'll find local high school coaches at school before 6:00 a.m. Whether for a practice or to leave for a meet, they are there. Dedicated to their team and the improvements they have been working on all season. In only my 4th year now as a Cross Country coach, I have tried to piece together what I feel every one of my athletes should know. Here are my top 8:
1. You are better that you think. Most athletes come into the program unsure of themselves. I understand. It's high school. You may be the incoming freshman surrounded by pure athletes. You may be thinking you could never achieve what these guys and girls are doing. I have news for you. That 6' 1" professional (you're thinking) athlete was 5'2" when I first saw him show up for summer camp. He struggled to fit in, could not do a running drill and regularly got beat at meets. He worked hard, believed in himself, had others believe in him (see #4), and trusted that he could do it. You have it in you to be GREAT. Just believe in yourself.
2. Talk to me about anything (almost anytime). Feel free to talk to me about anything. If it is about something unrelated to the current workout or practice, save it for later. We have only x amount of time to get things handled, and any interruption affects the entire team. I am available almost anytime (it seems like a 24/7 job sometimes). I want to know about your personal lives. How's your family? Did your little brother get honor roll? How's you dog/cat/turtle/goat/steer/chickens? Did you make an "A" in Ms. Robinson's class? Just not necessarily during practice. Hang out afterwards, or better yet, get there early. We'll talk then. See me in between classes. After school. After a meet. Before school. On all the social media sites. Just save the practice times for working out, improving yourself and improving the team.
3. You are not as good as you think sometimes. Wait a second. #1 says the complete opposite. What gives? Yes, most athletes come into the program unsure of themselves. Some athletes come in feeling bulletproof though. "I cannot get hurt." "I don't have to do the cool down." "I don't need to lift." All thoughts that keep you from getting better. Can you be good without doing all the workouts as prescribed to the letter? Sure. If you want to be good at something doing the minimum or cutting corners, that is fine. You will never be GREAT doing that. If you are okay with just being good, our JV team will always have a spot for you. If you want to be GREAT, be prepared to be pushed beyond your preconceived barriers. You can ALWAYS improve. Don't get stuck in a mindset that being good at something is good enough. Come in with a mindset that you can improve yourself.
4. I believe in you. I believe every a student athlete can be great. Will it take hard work and dedication? Absolutely. I believe you have "it" in you. Show up to practice. Everyday. Put 100% into everything. Hydration, fuel, recovery. Running, lifting, core work. Be patient and trust in the process. I believe in you, even when you are having doubts. I have witnessed first hand the turn around an athlete can have by having someone believe in them when they aren't sure of themselves. You CAN do it.
5. Expect to be coached. I will tell you what you don't want to hear sometimes. I will do it in a way that is constructive and hopefully taken well. When I do this, don't take it as me coming down on you or not believing in you. It is all part of the process of improvement. If there was no area you could improve on, you would remain exactly where you are. I will always try to get the absolute best out of you. Remember, I believe in you (see above).
6. I am here for you. If you ever need me, I will be there for you. Even after you leave the program. I want to be there for your awards ceremonies, high school graduation, military graduations, college graduations, and your wedding (I better get an invite). That means letters of recommendation for college, being a reference for a job, helping you with college applications and scholarships. Don't be afraid to ask. It is something I would do proudly.
7. You are loved. Simple and to the point. You have people in your lives that truly care for you. I am one of them. I want you to succeed. In Cross Country. No really. I want you to succeed in Cross Country. Have I mentioned success? In Cross Country? I will love you if you succeed in Cross Country.
I will also love you if you succeed in something else. For real. Even if you aren't initially successful, I will love you. Just keep trying and give 100% of yourself to something. You have people in your life who are there for you, believe in you, and love you. Count on them to help you along the way.
8. Expect success. I want you to succeed in anything you are passionate about. Find your passion and pursue it perfectly. Lexus probably has a trademark on the Passionate Pursuit of Perfection, but it does apply to everything you do. If you are passionate about something, pursue it and perfect it. Success will come if you do that. Set your goals, make a plan, and expect to succeed. Develop your self-confidence and hold yourself to a high standard by expecting to succeed. You will work even harder and inspire others around you. Success is also contagious. Once a person is successful, it opens the doors for others to believe, and proves it is possible.
Listen to these words. Reflect on them. Come back to them when you are feeling unsure of yourself. Come back to the post when you are having doubts. When you have a bad day. When you have a tough workout. Ant questions? See me before or after practice...just not during :-)