Cross Country is a Grueling
High School Sport

Our senior daughters are on the cross country team at their high school.

3.1 miles constitutes a race and whether you are the first one across the finish line or the last one across the finish line…

I consider every single runner a winner!

In fact, any sport where you cry and throw up at the finish line makes you a winner in my book.

In today’s society where physical education programs have been cut and kids are in front of the TV or computer, I give a shout out to any kid who juggles school and participates in athletics.

It is far easier to choose not to participate. Just ask The Grunter.

But then he’ll throwdown with his athletic twin sisters about how
he completed his first year of college during his senior year.

Then a parent usually has to intervene.

When we’re not busy making
Scary Baby remove flyers in the neighborhood.

Back to Cross Country…

I’ve very proud of our girls and particularly our redhead daughter Wizzy who has run all four years in high school. It is not a natural talent for her – this long distance running thing. She is long and lanky but she is also stiff and has an irregular heartbeat (inherited from her Dad).

She also has that darn twin sister Roger Leroy, who appears to be good at anything she tries. When she was “forced by us” to run Cross Country her sophomore year – we wanted them to run to condition themselves for the basketball season – ole’ Roger Leroy went out in the time trials and snagged the last Varsity spot on her first try. Top seven runners make Varsity but that changes week to week based on previous race results.

The whole sport has been a new experience for our family. I noted at the first race four years ago that it really isn’t a spectator sport unless you, yourself, are also a cross country runner. Seems after the race starts, parents actually chase their kids into the woods and cheer them on.

I was baffled.

Then I asked where the finish line was.

Now, that’s what I find out at every race.

Then I position myself near the finish line to cheer the girls on.

I only brought a chair the first and second year. Hush already.

Last week the girls ran in a race at their school’s course. Remember how I’ve written about how we love sports and all that it teaches kids? How important it is to be a good loser as well as a gracious winner. Our no gloating rule.

It was a proud moment when I snapped this picture of Roger Leroy and three runner friends last week displaying cards that show the order they finished.

XC girls fake numbers

She has never finished in the NUMBER ONE spot before.

WOW. What an accomplishment in her senior year.

She didn’t gloat. Has she actually learned something from us?

But, then again, maybe we put too much emphasis on NOT gloating and did not put enough emphasis on being honest.

XC girls real finish

Oh wait, that was just some good old-fashioned teenage HUMOR. Here are their real numbers. Ahhh, funny, funny girls.

Meanwhile, you might be asking – where is my sweet Wizzy?


She didn’t want her picture taken. There were a lot of tears. She had a rough race even though she did great and finished nineteenth!

She was being consoled by Sharté because there were some very, very bad displays of poor sportsmanship by parents. And from her own teammate.

The same teammate whom she has consoled after many races in past years when her own parents made her cry.

This teammate has had a surge of improvement in her time and actually beat Wizzy.

It’s not the beating – it’s the gloating. It is the parents gloating. I know it happens in almost every sport.

But it doesn’t mean it will ever be right.

And it will always be sad.

For all of our kids…

Life Lesson (LL): The apple not falling far from the tree becomes very obvious when parents are seen setting a bad example right in front of everyone’s kids.

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): How do you handle over-the-top parents and at what age do you stop intervening when the kids and the parents are hurtful to your kids?


One year ago..

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  1. 1
    Kerri says:

    Not having kids of my own, I can’t answer either of your questions, but I have seen the displays of unsportsmanlike conduct you talk about – at PeeWee Football even. It is a disgrace and those parents should be ashamed of themselves for passing on their bad behavior to their children.

    Great job to both your girls on the race! It really is a tough sport and making it across the finish line should be cheered no matter what place it is.

  2. 2
    julieann says:

    I feel your x/c pain, as I have runners in my household, too. In fact I spent my last year in GA coaching a small school’s x/c team. You have to purposefully ignore the “bad apples.” There will be some no matter how hard you try. They are unhappy people who are seeking an outlet for their frustrations and they have (unfortunately) perched upon your team/child. It’s good to point out to the injured child that these are unhappy people who just happen to be in their midst at the moment, and if they weren’t they’d be elsewhere complaining about traffic or the cost of gas or their sorry childhood or whatever their mind could seize upon at the time. It’s not personal; your child just happened to be available, that’s all. Stick that parent with your brightest wattage toothy southern smile and say something along the lines of, “Well, we brought along our cheering voice today, didn’t we?” Follow that comment with a wink and leave them wondering if they have just been insulted or flattered. Sometimes this approach wasn’t enough for me. Whenever our basketball team would lose to another team who weren’t good sports I’d always tell my girls, “Don’t sweat it. At least all the girls on our team can get prom dates.”

  3. 3
    Sherra says:

    Kerri » From Pee Wee leagues to high school athletics, it is shameful and I wish I had a solution other than teaching our kids that it’s a big, bad world and they have to learn how to deal with it. Of course, many of the problems of the world hinge on the fact that ADULTS can’t get along and don’t handle themselves appropriately…so how can we expect children know how?

    julieann » Thanks for encouragement – it is very hard to ignore when their cheering voice takes on the form of screaming in your child’s ear DURING the race. I’ll contain myself now and agree that they are very unhappy people who thrive on trying to make others as unhappy as they are.


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