Cross country is a team sport as well as an individual sport. To qualify as a team for the high school state meet, a team’s combined score must add up to one of the three lowest point totals at the regional meet. If your team does not qualify, an individual runner can qualify for the state meet by being one of the top 2 finishers not from one of those top 3 teams at the regional meet.
Minutes before the race starts at the state meet, qualifying teams get together in a huddle. This is when the coach provides his/her last words of encouragement and the runners sound off or chant motivational words to get themselves pumped up for the upcoming 3.1 miles. Then, all 7 runners from the team report to their assigned box and wait for the starting gun to go off. However, what do you do when you are an individual qualifier? Typically, you just do your individual warm up and go to the assigned box. However, at the Michigan State Meet a few weeks ago, something unique happened. Eight of the individual qualifiers from Box 24 formed a bond. A group of relative strangers from different schools huddled together to support each other. There was no captain or coach, but they formed a huddle and encouraged each other to do their best. They then reported to Box 24, reserved for individual qualifiers at the end of the starting line.
Joe’s Perspective: Sometimes a picture does say a thousand words. Just seeing these athletes huddle together to support each other is pretty cool. They are obviously there for their own individual interests. They don’t have a team, so the only thing that matters for each is an individual quest to finish as close to the top as possible. And yet in the midst of this, they created their own pseudo-team of misfit toys (Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer reference). They supported and encouraged each other. After the race, I hear they found each other to tell their stories and congratulate each other. Bravo to these athletes who created this bond and to the photographer who was wise enough to know he captured something special on his camera.
Your Turn: What lesson(s) do you take from this picture?