by Ryan Manning (SVDPRS 8th grade)
At St Vincent de Paul Regional School, cross country is one of the best physical activities possible. Although we are on a team, the main focus of the sport is to personally better oneself. It is also a great way to stay in shape for other sports such as basketball in the following season. To run cross country, one does not need to be the greatest athlete, or even the best runner. The whole point is to set goals for oneself and gradually see an improvement.
Running countless laps around Gaskill Park is made easier for us when we have someone like Coach Manning. She is very good at pushing everyone to his or her own levels and speeds. She is very experienced and loves volunteering and coordinating meets.
Practices are on Thursdays and Saturdays. Each member of the team knows the amount of hard work expected from us, and we know to come with a good attitude. We start by stretching for ten minutes and doing a warm-up lap with a great view of the lake. When we get back, Coach Manning tells us the plan for the rest of practice. Every week we add a lap to our run, ending the season with seven laps around the park. This prepares us for meets because our run was actually longer than the race when we competed.
At meets, we compete against the best parochial school runners in South Jersey, and we usually put on a very good performance for such a small school in Mays Landing. This is due to our hard work, great coach, and dedication to bettering ourselves physically and mentally.
Most importantly, we run together as a faith-filled team encouraging each other and using our God-given talents to serve others.