Dear CCS Team,
November 12, 2006
Dear Colin, Ethan, Jackie, Jim, JJ, Jocelyn, Josh, Justin, Kyle, Meghan, Michael, Natalie, Nerissa, Nick, Paul, Peter, Rachel, Reilly, Stephanie, Tommy, Yesenia, and Coaches Christine and Tomas,
24 hours have passed since CCS 2006. I still do not have anything magical to say that will lessen the sting from yesterday’s meet. Only time will do that. I can say that I’ve thought a lot about the races that transpired at Toro Park and have come to the conclusion that we did everything we could.
We prepared very well for the meet. We handled every injury/health situation to the best of our ability. The race plans were solid and the execution was perfect. With 1000 meters to go, both teams had a chance. That’s all you can ask for. If you asked me at the beginning of the season, if after all the miles of training with about 3:00 of running to go, “would you be satisfied with the team having a chance?” The answer would be yes. Everyone gave it all they had. It’s okay to be disappointed with the end result. But please, be proud of your effort.
On paper we shouldn’t have even been in contention. Even before Nick got hurt in the summer, we were probably ranked 5th in CCS for Division III. In September we ran 91:45 at Toro. That kind of time would have gotten us third-to-last on Saturday. At Stanford, we were behind Saratoga and Cupertino and 245 points behind SLV. A big thank you needs to go to Jared, whose early season running really made a difference. Without Jared in the early going, I think we would have been behind Riordan and Mitty at WCAL #1 and probably had a pretty bad showing at Stanford. It would have been hard for me to keep everyone motivated to keep chasing the dream if that had happened. When we went back to Toro in October we improved to 87:53. Better, but still not in contention with the teams who run in the 85’s. In the final weeks things really came together. Confidence was on the rise and I meant it when I said that even though it seemed like a long-shot (we were supposed to be 52 points behind SLV), I wouldn’t bet against our boys because they know how to come through in the clutch. Our 85:44 at CCS represents 6 minutes of improvement in two months and we made up 236 points on SLV since Stanford. Those are things to be proud of.
All season long the girls were a team off the radar that no one seemed to consider a State Meet contender. At one time or another in the first half of the season, Division III foes NMC, Willow Glen, SLV and SI all beat us (often by margins of 50-100 points). We knew the road to Fresno would go through those 4 schools. We ran 107:06 at Toro in September. At our second trip to Toro we ran 104:00 but that still left us 5 minutes behind SLV’s 98:46. At WCAL Finals we beat SI for the first time since the 2001 season and our 100:35 made us a legitimate contender for State. We knew it would be a close race. Our 102:05 at CCS represents 5 minutes of improvement in two months. Beating SLV, SI and Willow Glen, teams that beat us earlier in the season, speaks to our ability to race well when it truly counted. In the end we were one of five teams that finished within 11 points of the coveted 3rd place spot. Those are all things to be proud of.
At the very top of our website, it says “we will laugh together (and) cry together.” We certainly did that during CCS Week 2006. It also says, “You get back from the team, what you put into it. If you put all your heart into it, you will be rewarded with an experience you will treasure forever.” You all certainly put your heart into this team. I hope you feel rewarded and I hope you’ve had an experience you will treasure forever. I know I have.
The moments after the awards ceremony were some of the most difficult in my coaching career. The training books on lactate threshold and nutrition, the websites with running stats, and all the years of running did not prepare me for that moment. I felt an enormous pressure to say something to make the situation better. Isn’t that what the coach is supposed to do? But what is a coach to do when his girls team misses State Meet by one point and when his boys team, with 3 seniors, realize that because they were 9 points short, they will never race together as a cross country team again?
I decided to speak from the heart. That’s why my voice was cracking and tears were welling up in my eyes. I think it’s wonderful that all of you are so passionate about cross country. Yes, it is a bit of a risk to be passionate about something. The more you invest of yourself, the more it hurts when it doesn’t turn out the way you wished. We all experienced that on Saturday. But it’s a risk well worth taking. It is infinitely better than going through life without finding something that you are passionate about.
I know I will always remember this team. I will remember your passion. I will remember the alternates, who trained all week to be ready, supported the team 100 percent and took the disappointing news as hard as everyone else. I will remember your faces when we heard the results at the awards ceremony. But I will not remember CCS 2006 with sadness. I’ll remember the girls, who composed themselves just a few minutes after being in tears, going over to Sobrato to congratulate them. I’ll remember Nick coming over to me at the end, giving me a big hug, and saying “Thank you, Coach.”
No, thank you. Thank you everyone. You are the very reasons I love to coach. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be your coach.