As students begin adjusting to the new school year, the Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams are already in the midst of their season. The team returned to campus a week before the rest of the college for pre-season workouts, which included practicing twice a day and participating in other team building activities.
A portion of the team just recently competed in an invitational at SUNY Brockport. This early meet gave some of the newer athletes a chance to get ready and to avoid ‘race shock’ for the future meets.
Led by head coach Dan Moore ‘06, the coaching staff instills a sense of community in the athletes before they even step foot on the campus.
At the beginning and end of each season, Moore meets individually with each athlete to gauge their thoughts on the season, as well as their mental and academic status. Athletes agree that this is a helpful way to refocus and commit to their performance. Additionally, these meetings help the players to do better individually and allow the team as a whole to be more competitive.
Sophomore runners Baily Gorman and Jack Tate both committed early decision after visiting the cross country team. They attributed much of this to the coaching staff.
“I think you could ask anyone on this team and they would say they were more than willing to run through a brick wall for Dan [Moore],” Gorman said. “The coaching staff in this program is a big part of what makes it special.”
Entering preseason, the team focused on preparing for a time-trial, which determined the top individuals. Graduation in May left several of these top spots open for the taking.
“The men’s team lost three of its top five runners and the women’s team lost five of its top seven runners,” Tate said.
Despite losing these teammates, this did not discourage anyone—the returning athletes are ready to step up and the freshman athletes are eager to join this community.
During the week of preseason preparations, the team focuses on workouts, but they also engage in other activities, such as clinics. These clinics include an alumni panel, where former Geneseo athletes return to talk about their successes during and after college.
A dietician also comes to campus to speak to the athletes about proper nutrition.
The highlight of the preseason week includes Moore’s talk the day before time-trials, when he pumps up the team by speaking about “your why”—why the athletes run and what it means to them.
Everyone has their own personal reason for running and for becoming involved in this program. Moore believes that to perform optimally, each athlete should remember why they are doing what they are doing. It offers a huge morale boost and serves as a great source of motivation for the team.
The family atmosphere and community, as emphasized by Gorman and Tate, are strengthened by team traditions and by the Geneseo cross country folklore. Former head coach of the program Mike Woods still gives advice to the athletes and exhibits the “old man wisdom” that really helps to balance the relatively young coaching staff, according to Tate.
“He has no official ties to the program, but he’s a really important person in the program,” Tate said. “He coached our coaches, so it’s cool to hear stories from him and he’s very inspirational."