How often do we think about our school’s cross country team? Unfortunately, some of us don’t. Cross country is a sport that is often overlooked in favor of more popular sports, although the grit and determination that it takes to become a successful cross country athlete deserves attention.
The season initially begins two weeks before school starts and ends shortly after the first quarter. Training is no walk in the park. Head coach Debbie Brown says that practices vary everyday, but the team will typically run 4 to 6 miles while incorporating speed workouts. Brown also implements competition throughout her practices. “We will do some distance races around the lake with competing teams. They tend to thrive on the competition,” says Brown.
For most, that would be exhausting. But for cross country athletes like Ben Mitchell, running is his passion. “I run not only to be a part of North Little Rock’s amazing sports teams, but also to gain new friendships,” says Mitchell. “Along with pursuing my dream to run on the collegiate level.”
According to Coach Brown, Mitchell has helped to create an atmosphere that is based on accountability and encouragement.
“He’s going to be an asset to whatever he is a part of,” says Brown. Mitchell is known to be a great leader and hard worker. “He not only does what I ask of him, but he anticipates what needs to be done before I even ask. Now that is a great quality in anyone, especially someone so young,” says Coach Brown.
Brown hopes that athletes like Mitchell bring more awareness to the importance of supporting all of our Wildcats.
“It would be nice if we could help to cultivate a culture of support among all sports, recognized and acknowledged them for their contributions, whether it be football, cross country, basketball, golf or any other sport our district offers,” says Brown. “We owe that to our athletes.”