Cross Country Running In SC, It Ain’t Oregon
Today is my 12 year old’s last Cross Country race of the season.
She had a great year! She’s only in 7th grade but she ran Varsity all year. What??
How is that possible?
It’s been a really strange race season here in South Carolina?
In Oregon last year in our tiny town and small school district the only middle school sport left standing was Cross Country and then Track in the Spring. The coaches there are super dedicated and really love the sport AND love working with the kids.
Her coach last year created running programs for the kids each week and RAN with the kids every single day. Some days they would run up the hills around the school. They also used trails around town and simply ran on sidewalks and side streets. Other days they would stay near the school track and run laps and sprints. Fridays were always ‘fun days’ and they would play running games. Ultimate Frisbee and other running intensive games. One Friday they split into two teams and had to run around town to gather cell-phone photo images of different objects on a list created by the coach. A digital scavenger hunt!
When we found out we were moving, the high school coach was pretty mad at us! Apparently he had been watching our kiddo pretty closely and was excited to have her on the HS team in a couple years.
Wish the Cross Country Support was Better
Here in Fort Mill, the schools are terrific. As in… AMAZING. Huge buildings. Crazy new football stadium (I’m talking professional level-looking). The curriculum and teaching is first rate. Heck I’m thrilled there is busing! Believe me when I tell you they spend a serious amount of money on the high school marching band. It’s a Full Contact Sport down here! But. (You knew that was coming.)
We were excited to really dig in and get started with all the things my kids would need. The oldest in marching band, the youngest and his love of all thing science and the middle kiddo who has developed a real love and talent for running.
Only… there’s no middle school Cross Country team? Huh? How can that be? It’s a cheap sport to run, that’s the main reason we still had it in KFalls!
In South Carolina, middle school students are allowed to play on high school teams if there is no team in their level. However, 6th graders are not allowed to play on any sports. Something about an arcane law in the state – wonder how many other ancient laws still exist here in the deep South?—this law says high school is technically 7th through 12th grade.
Anyway. My daughter began running in the summer before school started with the team at 7AM over in a local ‘Greenway’ – what they call trails and set aside green park spaces in the Carolinas. She was the only 7th grade girl. She was the only MIDDLE SCHOOL girl! And she was timid and not sure who to run with. She slowly made a few friends with the younger girls and stuck to them on the longer runs.
In Oregon middle school ran a 3,000 meter cross country race or about 2 miles. But high school runs a 5K, about 3 miles.
The week before schools started they had their first ‘timed trial’ during a practice. And I’m afraid my little girl surprised the heck out of a few of the people there. Especially the coaches! She came in as the 2nd fastest runner. A senior beat her. But she was running faster than several other much older girls.
How is that possible? She wasn’t the fastest runner on her team before by quite a stretch. Did she improve that much over the summer? Maybe her ‘mountain lungs’ gave her an advantage? Only she didn’t run at all over the summer and we’d been in South Carolina for 2 months by that point?
Here’s a super quick video of her starting out in a giant race. She’s near the bottom of the screen in her black and white uniform, she’s short!
By the end of the season she came in first every single meet on our team, the girl who was faster than her at the beginning never did pick up and do as well again. And a couple other girls were almost always 2nd and 3rd behind her by a few seconds. This means she was running varsity Cross Country each week!? And remember she’s only 12! She came in about the bottom of the top 1/3rd in each of the larger races.
Her fastest 5K time is 21:50. HOW CRAZY AMAZING IS THAT?!
I wish I could say the coaches here are like we had in Oregon. They just didn’t seem to have their heart in it. And this is their first year. I guess it’s a ‘building’ team for us for a long ways to go. They aren’t recruiting new runners in the middle school. I wish the coaches would run alongside the kids in practice at least. Instead they ask the kids to head out on a trail with a couple instructions and that’s it.
I couldn’t coach it, so don’t get me wrong! I’m glad there is a team at least.
But sigh…. We miss the program in our tiny town in Oregon. Here’s to hoping it gets better by the time she is in high school. There is a middle school track program we are told, but we’re hearing rumors that there isn’t a coach for it yet.
This is a kid who has 5 more seasons of Cross Country to run through. It’s definitely her ‘thing’.
Here’s hoping for a closer team with seasoned coaches in the future.
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