Running Start: Cross country runners explain importance of pre season training and bonding done during weeklong summer team camp


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Amit Manchella, cross-country runner and sophomore, and Daniel “Dan” Musapatika, cross-country runner and junior, run together at summer practice. Manchella said summer helps prepare the team for the season when the school year starts.

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On the last Monday of July, one hundred girls on the women’s cross country team pile into school buses with their duffel bags. They are headed towards Lincoln State Park for their annual summer team camp. Half an hour later, the men’s team load their buses headed towards Rose Hulman University.

According to women’s cross country Head Coach Andy Dalton this team camp has been held for many years.

“We have probably been going for at least 20 years now. Years ago, boys and girls went to the same location for team camp. But that we found out got to be a little distracting for both while we were at camp,” Dalton said. “Then it kind of changed over the years and for a while we would only take probably 30 or 40 of the top runners each summer to team camp right before school started. It was just kind of a way to get everybody focused. But the last couple of years we have been taking the whole team.”

  For the women’s team camp, the seniors each year take charge and plan most of the activities. 

Cross country runner and senior Abigail  “Abby” Kaufman explained what goes into this process.

“We take what the seniors did last year and we decide different roles for each of the seniors to do. We try to make sure that everyone is working together but that each person has a specific job to make sure that we get everything done properly,” Kaufman said. “One of the things is a dance that we (the seniors) do every year, so we need to choreograph that and make sure that everyone learns it and performs it. We also decorate cabins and have to come up with an overall theme for the whole, entire week. We also plan the team camp t-shirts.”

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Abigail “Abby” Kaufman and Paige Fulkerson, Cross country runners and seniors lead warm-up during morning summer practices. Kaufman said that seniors usually take charge during summer practices by leading runs and planning activities during team camp.

Overall, Dalton said the main purpose of team camp is to train and bond as a team.

“The biggest benefit is that it really builds the community and the culture of the entire team before school starts. It allows girls to get to know each other, especially the freshmen because it allows them to walk into school on the first day and already know 100 girls really well,” Dalton said. “From a coaching perspective, the benefits are that we get to educate the girls on how we do training, why we do training, and not just our physical training but our mental training and what our vision and goals for the year are.”

Kaufman agreed that team camp served its major purpose.

“Team camp not only helps me with getting prepared for the season running- wise, it also helps me get closer to all of the other seniors and other athletes that are doing cross country. It is  a good bonding experience,” Kaufman said.

Men’s cross country runner and sophomore Amit Manchella also agreed with the major benefits of team camp.

Manchella said, “We have a lot of competitions like Mario Kart competitions and ping pong competitions that really bring us together as a team. We also do workouts throughout the day; one in the morning and one in the evening. One of the days we go to the Terre Haute course which is the State Championship course and we do a workout on that which is a really cool experience.”