Cherokee Cross Country Pictures, 2021, Page I

Pre-Season and Early Meets

In previous years, we posted some remarks that drew many positive comments from coaches, team members and parents, so we decided to repeat them! If you read them last year and didn't "Step Up" and do your part on the team, this is your opportunity to do so this year!

Late June: Cross Country begins out your front door . . . now! Yes . . . really . . . now!

Now is the time for those easy runs on hot summer days just to get into it! Your body needs the slow build-up to perform well in the future, and your mind needs the habit of discipline necessary to become a great Cross Country runner!


Run on the hot days!

Run on the rainy days!

Run even if it snows!

Run on vacation!

Run before work!

Run after work!

Run when you really don't feel like it!


Run like a champion!

In addition, this is the time to generate the team spirit and togetherness that will carry you though the tough times! Don't run alone unless you're really stuck! Run with others with varying abilities: you don't want to run slowly or fast all the time! Don't run behind someone on the runs because that's what you've always done! Get up front sometime and set the pace . . .! Pick the guys who have incredibly positive attitudes, the ones who don't make excuses, and avoid those who do! The military does this well, whether you're Seal Team 6 or 5th Special Forces, you train as a team and no one lets down the team! Everyone is important in achieving the goal and no one slacks off! YOU are an important part of the team and YOU need to recognize that!

Remember, every time you put on your training shoes and go out for a run, and every time you put on your racing shoes and stand on a starting line: YOU are an important runner on the team, the team needs you, and what you do matters to the team!



~~ The Summer After the Coronavirus ~~

That section title is more than wishful thinking: The Summer After the Coronavirus! New Jersey did relatively well in stepping-up against the virus and, today, it is one of the healthiest states -- well, related to the virus! -- in the nation! It continues to press for measures designed to end the threat of the disease once and for all and we hope you will take advantage of all of those measures when they become available to you!

Last summer, we missed all our traditional summer activities, including team practices, the Marlton Mayor's Cup 5K and RunningWorks CC Camp, but the team was still able to win SJ Sectionals, the highest state competition allowed last Fall! Indeed, if all goes well, and if we can get in several months of proper training, focusing on the fundamentals, we expect The Chiefs will, once again, reach the highest levels of achievement this Fall! GO CHEROKEE!

In passing, as we're sweating golf balls out there, there are many ways to stay hydrated on hot days and nights. TIME Magazine offered this interesting article on "the best way to stay hydrated." Check it out: it's worth reading! Staying Hydrated.

Train together! Train well! Train safe! Train healthy!

~~ Why Runners Succeed . . . or Fail ~~

OK, there's no big secret: Have a Plan and stick to it!

If you're normal, every day you have numerous things you want to do, or someone else wants you to do. Some are immediate, others are less so. Here's where the Plan comes in: focus on the Plan!

Make a list, on paper or in your head, and as additional things come up, put them on your list. There should be at least 2 or 3 big ones (goals and responsibilities) and maybe a dozen lesser ones. Focus on the big ones and set time for those to be accomplished! Don't let the distractions or lesser parts of your Plan dominate your life!

(An aside: If one of your big ones on your daily plan isn't to train and help the team in a big way to win the State Championship then, maybe, you're not ready to succeed as a runner?)

What are the actions that are keeping you from reaching your major goals? How can you avoid them?

Focus on accomplishing the big ones in your Plan and lessen the chance of getting distracted!

Sometimes the distractions are mundane -- cut the grass, walk the dog, put out the trash, etc. -- sometimes they are fun and exciting -- meet friends at Dunkin' for breakfast, do a day-trip to the Shore, hang out at the pool, etc. -- sometimes they're just stupid -- lie on the couch for hours and watch re-runs of Laverne and Shirley -- but all cut into accomplishing your Plan! Do the other things -- well, maybe not watch those re-runs -- but don't lose sight of the Plan!

~~ Hot enough for ya? ~~

Just saw The New Yorker's daily cartoon by Zoe Si and went out for an extended period: ya gotta think there's some truth in this!


"I'm learning to resent being outside again!"

~~ Oh Captain! My Captain! ~~

On the first week of July, the coaches announced the Captains for the team! Look back at previous selections, all among the greatest leaders of the team! Not necessarily the fastest but definitely guys to follow and respect.

Usually the Captains are Seniors because the coaches prize experience. They're committed, even passionate, and when teammates sense those qualities they generally "up" their own efforts. They're positive people with a high level of confidence. They have strong personal goals, knowing where they and the team are going and what they want to accomplish. They're consistent and reliable. They're willing to take responsibility, they step-up and get routine things done and they don't blame anyone for failures, instead, they focus on solutions . . . "they don't make excuses, they make progress!" They exhibit maturity and emotional intelligence. They're good at "team building," bringing the various members of the group into a goal-oriented team. They're likable, too, with great senses of humor . . .!

OK, those are goals! No Captains exhibit all of these characteristics and, even if they did, they're stronger at some, not so strong at others.

By the way, do you see any of these qualities in yourself? If you're a younger member of the team, are you ready to become a good team captain?!

That said, this year the coaches selected Seniors Jameson Crozier and Brad Popler as the team's Captains! Congratulations to both! And remember team, their success will be your success! Support them as much as you can! GO JAMESON! GO BRAD!


~~ Practice! ~~

It's July 13th, 7:00 AM, and it's already 74 degrees, no wind, heavy fog, a Dew Point of 72 . . . plenty to whine about! But every day you practice puts you another step in front of those who didn't! Every step strengthens you physically and, even more important, every step strengthens you psychologically to withstand the greater challenges at race time!

Make wherever you train a "NO WHINING ZONE" because no one ever got better at doing something by whining! Sure, complain (briefly) about (say) the weather but then deal with it! For example, when it's hot, plan a route with multiple water stops, even more than you will likely need, and stop at the ones you need! Run with friends who help you laugh a lot and forget how nasty the weather is! If your friends are slower than you are, plan a cut-off where they shorten their run a little and regroup later along the route. Run in shaded areas! Use your imagination! Find solutions and find satisfaction!

You don't believe me . . . that running tough on difficult days is great for you?! Go home after a tough practice and look in the mirror . . . that's a champion in the making! GO CHEROKEE! GO CHAMP!

Our photographer thought the idea of shooting pics on a foggy morning might be pretty cool but he, Canon and PhotoShop were stressed to the max on this little adventure! Not to be undone, however, he did what he could and here are a few results. And here are all the pics on the District's Google Drive.



Click on the following thumbnails for larger versions:

Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice
Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice
Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice
Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice
Practice Practice

~~ Looking Ahead ~~

Late July and the racing schedule for the season is available -- maybe still waiting for Board of Education approval to be officially published -- and it lists two "invitationals" that open the season! On September 11th, the team hosts the 25th Annual Cherokee Challenge (details at our website and at NJ.MileSplit) and a week later, the team travels to The Battle at Ocean County Park in Lakewood, NJ (details at: NJ.MileSplit).

Both meets have their own reputations! The Cherokee Challenge, with its shorter distances of 2 miles and 1.5 miles, was meant as a shorter introduction to the sport and the season but, for many Varsity competitors, it has become a fiery, sprint-2 miler that allows many top runners to "make a statement" early in the season! The Battle at Ocean County Park has for years been seen as a flat, fast venue (maybe short!) where all Varsity and JV runners set a 5K time that often becomes their PR for the season!

Both come so early in the season that only the most experienced runners are "race-ready" and understand the specific demands of the courses and the races! The point, train well the months prior to the meets and run smart throughout the races!


~~ MileSplit's Cross Country Returners for 2021 ~~

The computer systems at NJ.MileSplit worked overtime to create the recent list of Cross Country Returners for 2021 and, while Cherokee's stars are way down that list, you have to remember how young you are, how much you've grown over the past year and how much you've trained over the summer! According to NJ.MileSplit, these guys are our top 7 returnees: Conor Jacob, Patrick Ditmars, Nick Kuenkel, Bradley Popler, Joseph Natali, Thomas Bradley and Andrew Free! Part of the excitement of Cross Country is seeing how these guys and others on the team alter this list!


~~ Camp Planning ~~

August, and those of us going to Camp are already imagining the simpliest kit that will last us through the week! We saw these convenient Cargo Pants in The New Yorker and thought some of you might be interested . . . maybe "pre-loaded" with your own items? Whadda ya think? Pure genius?


~~ RunningWorks at Camp Canadensis ~~

Don't care how much you planned, RunningWorks at Camp Canadensis was "different" this year: very humid and just a tad wet! Despite that, we didn't miss a run or an activity! Yes, different, but manageable! And here's a happy "heads up!" . . . 5.2 inches of rain fell the day after we left! Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

We're still wondering who shut off the hot water at 14 of our cabins that night but that will remain one of our memories from the week!

Our photographer is just a tad busy but here's the team picture taken on the only sunny morning of camp!


Our photographer posted many of the camp pics at the RunningWorks site and then he went back and searched for Cherokee runners in the pics: a daunting task as he could only be in one place at a time and because some of our runners kept a low profile throughout the week! He kept some of the original edits and re-did some others to feature our runners. All of the Cherokee pics are posted on the District's Google site and here are some quirky versions of our runners! Try to ID yourself! Are we missing someone?

Camp Camp Camp Camp Camp Camp
Camp Camp Camp Camp Camp Camp
Camp Camp Camp Camp Camp Camp

~~ Building a "Championship Culture" ~~

Some time ago, when he was thinking about who/what makes a great team Captain, our photographer saw a list of "Ten things teammates don't let teammates do in championship cultures" and thought it was overly negative. Take a look:

1. Don't Cut Corners
2. Don't Whine and Complain
3. Don't Make Excuses
4. Don't Act Selfishly
5. Don't Disrespect Each Other
6. Don't Divide the Team
7. Don't Trash the Coaches
8. Don't Embarrass the Program
9. Don't Give Up
10 Don't Let Teammates Down

Before he could respond to the writer and suggest a more positive list, the following appeared:

1. Do the little things
2. Pick each other up
3. Accept responsibility
4. Be selfless
5. Treat each other with respect
6. Create unity
7. Speak positively/Keep disagreements in-house
8. Be a program ambassador
9. Be gritty
10 Be reliable

That led to a discussion at the RunningWorks Camp with a number of successful (program-building) coaches and athletes. Here's some of what they said about successful athletes and teams:

1. Have many leaders with character on the team
2. Encourage preparation that leads to commitment, "attitude" and "swagger"
3. Develop a work ethic for the team: "Someone is going to get better today, it might as well be Cherokee!" 4. Believe in yourself and your team
5. Be a "family" . . . cohesive, encouraging, helpful, no self-centered egotists . . . most student-athletes form bonds that last a lifetime
6. Be positive, look for the good in the program, the team, the coaches, the school, etc
7. Be able to recover from adversity, don't quit.
8. Have a significent but doable goal.
9. Make it fun! Winning is always "fun" but make every day "fun" in some way
10 Recruit for your team. What is it about your team that sets it apart and worth joining?

What would you add to these lists? Distance guys always have plenty of time to think!

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