A healthy family practices positive communication and connects on a deeper level. Members of a tight family rank their relationships with their clan as a top priority and count on each other for support- no one is left behind, and everyone is valuable. The leaders of the women’s cross country team here at GU do an exceptional job implementing a family-like foundation that pays out on the cross country course and behind the scenes within the trials of intense training. There are five upperclassmen on the women’s team, and each bring their own component of leadership to the team. They have displayed their importance to this team whether it be notable talent, character, positivity, or all of the above.
The dynamic, or culture, of a team is almost completely created by the upperclassmen on the team. They are naturally the leaders out of talent and maturity and typically hold the wisdom needed to help a coach direct the organization as a whole. Team leaders help mold the club behind the scenes through example and intentional leadership. Shirley Estes, a senior, has served as an under-the-radar leader. She doesn’t need to be heard; she is relationally focused. The cross country team is like a family and she loves her family because they have always made her feel welcome. Estes pointed out that some days are hard, but each afternoon she gets to spend time with people she appreciates and can significantly influence her day in a positive way. Sheridan Noll, also a senior, has done what she can to implement leading by example and “show that being a good runner isn’t more important than being a good student and a good teammate.” She ultimately feels that five years from now, times won’t matter, but the friends that are made and the memories experienced will have meaning.
The team has no cliques, and joking comes easily for the team as a whole according to Sydney Porter, a senior. Porter has not always been a member of the cross country team but has had no problem blending due to the welcoming nature of the team and her own uplifting spirit. Porter tries to add to the family dynamic of the team by offering herself as a friend and states, “I simply want to be someone that a teammate can feel comfortable coming to talk to because occasionally we simply need someone to listen to us rather than advise us.” Kori Nesbit, a junior, emphasized how close she has become to her fellow upperclassmen during the last three years. Each year, as she puts in mile after mile with the teammates next to her; they have transitioned from training partners into lifelong friends. Nesbit values the genuine experiences on and off the cross country course and loves how she can’t help but form sincere relationships with the returning and new individuals on her team. When asked about the camaraderie on the team, senior Jordie File pointed out that the team rallies behind each other in a similar way that one family member does for another family member. Like the other leaders on the team, File tries to encourage everyone, and serving as a senior naturally puts her in a place of leadership and responsibility. Because of this, File tries her best to lead by example.
The family component of this team was not built by the coach or by the success on the golf course. Mile after mile, it’s difficult not to grow closer to the person working next to you. These ladies appreciate each other as well as running and it shows on campus and on the course. Click below to hear from some of the upperclassman of the team!