El Estoque

Cross country: Season begins with a united team of many perspectives

Nanda Nayak

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It’s a grueling 85 degrees, and the whole cross-country team, present and lively, awaits Coach Kirk Flatow’s commands. They’re a team, and they’re here together, waiting for Flatow to utter the magic word “Go,” which dismisses them off to McClellan Ranch Park. They’re a team, but each of them has their own running style some sprint off at the beginning to get an early lead, others start off with a jog to save their energy. They’re a team, but they’re all so different.

And that’s how it is with this group of cross country runners. They’re all together because of their love for cross-country, but they all view the sport in a different way.

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Mizuki Kadowaki (left) and Valerie Lo (right) ready for a day at practice

Sophomore Mizuki Kadowaki and Senior Valerie Lo, for example, have found that cross-country can help someone make friends. They have become closer through cross-country and have developed a meaningful friendship.

El Estoque: How did your friendship begin?

Kadowaki: We started over summer running. We were the only ones who were the same speed, so we just ran together, because running together is more fun.

Lo: And running makes you connect more because you have nothing better to do than to talk to each other.

EE: Do you feel that running together has brought both of you closer?

Lo: Of course. When you’re running, you want to keep your mind off of the pain you’re in, so you just have to talk to others.

EE: Did you know each other before summer started?

Kadowaki: I kind of knew her last year, but not really. Our relationship has definitely developed from cross-country.

 

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Junior Kelly Bishop after a day of practice

Junior Kelly Bishop, on the other hand, has chosen to look at the more competitive side of cross-country, and considers pursuing it as a career.

EE: Why did you choose to start running cross-country?

Bishop: My older brother ran, and every sport he did, I decided to try out.

EE: Have you ever achieved anything in cross-country that really made you feel validated, and sparked an interest in running as a career?

Bishop: Well, I’ve been on varsity my whole [high school] career, so we won CCS and I was second  on our team, and I scored points for my team. When we won CCS my freshman year, when we got second, we were second by 6 points, and we were ahead of the third place team by six points, so it was all very close, and I scored points for our team. In those moments, I was like wow, this is really fun, it’s definitely great.

EE: Would you consider cross-country as a career?

Bishop: It’s definitely an option, and cross-country is definitely very high on the list of considerations. I’m also considering triathlons, because that has running in it and I swim, too. Just something with running and athletics.

 

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Coach Kirk Flatow at cross country practice

And Flatow, coach of the cross country team, chose to start coaching as a hobby.

EE: What are your hopes for this team?
Flatow: My hopes for this team are that everyone can PR, or [get a personal record]. If everybody PR’s, it’s a great season.

EE: Do you feel that you’ve learned things from cross-country?

Flatow: The thing that cross country can teach you is that if you work hard over a period of time you will get better, and even though you can have a lot of disappointments, if you stick with it, you will get better. And that’s true in almost anything in life.

EE: Why did you start coaching cross-country?

Flatow: Before I did this, I was a business executive in the Silicon Valley, for more than twenty years, and started a company and did some different things. I felt that some of the things that I learned in cross-country helped me in my business. Once I retired early, I decided to become a cross country coach, and pass on some of the things that my coach taught me, to kids. I felt that it was sort of my duty and responsibility to pass on what I got, to other people.

 

To every runner, to every person on the cross country team, cross-country means something unique. To Kadowaki and Lo, it helped them become friends. To Bishop, it’s a career option. And to Flatow it’s the job that he loves.

To all four, cross-country means something different. It’s one sport, with so many perspectives.