Kathryn Field is sports journalism student at Arizona State University covering Arizona College Preparatory athletics.
High school athletics are known to shape young athletes and give them necessary skills for the rest of their lives. Arizona College Prep cross country is no different as the team prepares runners to be successful in their futures.
Coach Brittany Thornock has seen runners thrive with the structure of being a part of a team. Thornock says cross country helps runners organize their day and gives them a sense of responsibility to themselves and others.
Thornock highlighted that while cross country is often thought of as an individual sport, in actuality, it is a team sport. The team aspect is important for athletes to grow as people as well.
“I’ve seen people grow and develop and not only want to improve themselves, but they want to help their team out,” said Thornock.
Junior Alyssa Ackerman has seen improvement in herself with the help of the team. She feels that the competition with her teammates has helped her to improve against other teams in competitions.
Ackerman also credits the team with building her leadership skills. Being an upperclassman on the team, she has learned how to be a mentor for underclassmen and understands the importance of being a team player.
“The team has helped me learn that the group is just as important as yourself,” said Ackerman
While Ackerman is competing against her own teammates at every meet for her best personal time, the team aspect is one of the things she enjoys most about cross country. Being a part of a team gives her something to fight for other than herself and pushes her to be better for the sake of the team.
“It has taught me the importance of working hard and not quitting when things get tough,” said Ackerman.
While cross country is a competitive sport, it can also be a way for athletes to reduce stress. Senior Abraham Troop credits running with helping him to clear his mind of the stress of being a student athlete.
“For me it’s kind of like meditation,” said Troop.
Troop feels that running helps him to be more productive in other aspects of life, such as school and social life. On days that he doesn’t run, he notices a dip in his productivity levels.
Troop was inspired to start running to better himself and become the best version of himself. He feels that the ACP cross country team has played a large role in helping become that best version of himself.
For Ackerman, running helps to make her feel like she has accomplished something, which helps to motivate her throughout the rest of her day. She believes that by starting her day with a tough run, she will be inspired to be more productive in school and the rest of her day.
Ackerman and Troop have grown as runners and people throughout their time on the ACP cross country team. They have become leaders and are perfect examples of athletics shaping athletes into young adults who are prepared to succeed in their futures.