Cross Country Competes Online A New Kind of Zooming

A New Kind of “Zooming”

Maren Livingstone '22, Contributor

In this new socially distanced world, people all across the country have taken up different ways to stay fit and compete athletically. Professional sports leagues like the NBA have built bubbles to keep their athletes safe, zoom workout classes are streamed daily, stadiums are filled with virtual fans, and simulated competitions are becoming more prominent.
The Loomis Chaffee cross country team has found its own way to continue practicing through social distancing requirements through virtual competitions.
The past successes of the Loomis team has made the transition to virtual competition a big one for LCXC. Boys varsity coaches Mr. Andrew Bartlett and Ms. Sally Knight described the virtual competition as an opportunity for athletes from various Founders League schools to compete. Coaches from Westminster School, Loomis Chaffee, Northfield Mount Hermon, Choate and Rosemary Hall, Taft School, and others collaborate on race lengths and times. This collaboration has been crucial to building a competitive experience.
“They all want their athletes to have a competitive experience,” Coach Bartlett said. Each team runs the race on their respective courses and the coaches time their athletes. After the race, the coaches converse once again to decide what types of point deductions need to be made to level the playing field.
“We have a sense of how boys will do on various other courses. We have run at these other schools so often and have been analyzing other different courses for about 30 years and it allows us to equalize the playing field,” Coach Bartlett said.
Each course has different hills and obstacles, and some schools do not need to wear masks, giving their athletes a clear advantage. After the deductions, the racers time’s are compared and athletes are placed.
“The races are something to look forward to and train towards, healthy competition is great,” said senior captain Jake Lotreck ’21.
Although this season has been different, the team has still found a way to enjoy the sport. “I would posit that these guys are having more fun and less stress than in recent years,” said Coach Bartlett. “[They are] really embracing every aspect of it.”
This season has really been a growing experience for team members. “Having a more relaxed structure, we’ve had a greater opportunity to extend leadership beyond elected captains,” said Coach Knight.
Mary Kate Briglio ’22, from the girls varsity team, added, “We will be competing virtually against Choate and Westy on November 7th. We are all very excited.”
All members of the program understand that this is not a normal year for them. There are certain things they are not going to be able to do, but the positive mindset they have been able to instill in each other has allowed them to make 2020 a most beneficial year for the program.
“The Grand finale of the season is going to be under the lights… Loomis Chaffee and NMH will be racing, starting guns going off at the same time,” said Coach Knight.
Coach Bartlett praised and emphasized the camaraderie his team has built. “The boys are really centered around bonding as a program. It’s not always about running but it is about being together.”