Notre Dame Cross Country: “The Vision Will Not Disappoint”

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Notre Dame Cross Country: “The Vision Will Not Disappoint”

Owen Brummel, Staff Writer, Journalism I

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It is an understatement to say that Notre Dame Cross Country team is a family. 

It is the biggest sport at Notre Dame Academy with over 140 kids on the team each year. Why do so many people gravitate towards this sport? What makes it so popular?

John Gard has been the head coach for 11 years now, and he is one of the many reasons why the NDA cross country program is considered one of the best in the state. 

Since Gard has been coach, the CC team has tripled in numbers, and the Tritons now have the tradition of not only winning but also becoming champions as runners and well-rounded people. 

Cross country is a great way to not only get in shape but also to meet a lot of new people because there are so many kids on the team. 

Coach Gard said, “Before I was coach, the team was a mess.  The runners weren’t performing well. The problem is that they weren’t running for a greater good, and that greater good is each other and, most importantly, God.” 

The team’s commitment to growing their faith impacts the program’s culture and the overall team morale. 

The team’s motto this year is “The vision will not disappoint,” which means that with God’s help, champions can be made and goals can be met. God and your teammates never let you down. 

Senior captain Howie Gerstner said, “The team morale is so strong because there is more to the team culture than simply winning races. Our training and team spirit promotes strong bonds between teammates and each other. We all hold each other accountable on making sure we show up to practice and that we are well-rounded individuals. In routinely participating in events like weekly team mass and prayer before meets we keep ourselves grounded in both the Lord and the brotherhood of runners that we are.”

“​Our group of kids are special young leaders and are invigorating to spend time with. We have the most fun group of parents that have become good friends, and we all believe there is something magical with the entire group,” Gard said. 

“The cross country team is the closest knit, and most well founded organization that I have had the privilege to be a part of. There is even more to the sport than the already humbling chance to compete and run with my brothers every week. In addition, I am surrounded by a caring and passionate team of student athletes that truly care about each other,” Gerstner explained. 

Coach always says that the “runners need to choose to care about more than themselves in order to elevate the program.”

In the Notre Dame CC program, “team” takes on a new meaning. Coach G promotes the pack-running mentality, which means you stick together in the races and no one runs alone. You have to depend on each of your teammates and have their backs. 

The coaching staff is very much aware that some kids dread race days because running long distances is tiring, but due to the fact that you are with your teammates who endure the same pain in cross country, you learn to quite literally live as a team and die as a team.  

“My group of senior boys are my rock on the team–Owen Brummel, Reid Milton and Adam Hommel always have my back. We share a unique camaraderie that has been developed over the years of inside jokes, hard work, struggle, victory, and everything in between that we have experienced together. All a product of the true brotherhood that the team is. When I’m gone, I will miss the small things with the boys like warming up before races, painful speed day workouts, road trips, and early morning breakfasts after race day,” Gerstner said. 

The team has many goals this season, one being to receive jelly beans, which are given out after every PR.  Most importantly, the team members set their eyes on preparation for the state meet in October. 

“I look forward to the chance to become state champions. We have worked hard for years to get to where we are now both in level of training and depth of talent. I am so excited to compete with the boys and finally bring our tireless work to fruition,” Gerstner explained.