Dunn Neugebauer Column: Positive News From Early XC Action

Start of the JV Girls Group 1 race at North Georgia (photos by Alex Brust)

Needing a change from coaching with a stopwatch in one pocket while checking the email in the other, DNN (Dunn Neugie Network) went out into the field to get early reports of how 2020 cross country has gone so far. With some August meets under the belts -- time trials, small events, and the like -- DNN was fortunate to receive emails from some North Atlanta area coaches. 

"The kids were SO excited to be out running and competing again," one said. "I'm finding that the kids want to make this work as much, or more than the coaches do. The main thing is and was to keep reminding them to stay socially distant -- as upper school kids are like ticks in that they latch on to each other. Still, they were compliant, and they had no problem wearing the masks."

Down the road, another coach had similar sentiments, "It's been different, to say the least -- checking temperature, masks, etc., - but I found that the kids are doing their part, and in general the team is just happy to do something together. The kids are resilient, and they know we as a coaching staff are making lots of adjustments and plans to make this a challenging and fun season. Temperature checks and screening questionnaires will go on - along with the workouts - but as we train for an uncertain future, at least we have each other, our team, our family."

One more added this, "What I noticed as we raced was how respectful everybody was of the guidelines. Things weren't perfect, but people were actively trying to socially distance themselves -- including at the start and finish areas. It seems parents, runners, and coaches are willing to make some small sacrifices to give these kids a season. 

"Most importantly though, the kids were clearly having fun. Whether satisfied with their times or not, almost everybody was happy to be out there. When I drove home, it was obvious we accomplished what we went there to do. We gave the kids a beginning to their season. And they had fun. I have no doubt that, if everybody is willing to adjust to the guidelines, there can be a normal enough end to their season as well."

And finally, one more just because, "I can say my athletes shared the same elation I had when I finally got to see them do their thing. We were able to do our time trial and it brought me more joy than I've felt in a while, as I've truly missed seeing my athletes push themselves, compete, support, and celebrate one another. It was also great to spend Saturday afternoons doing what I usually do -- texting other coaches and perusing the results on Milesplit. I hope we can continue to conduct safe meets, even if we have to creatively figure out how to hold a season for our athletes -- and for our coaches and fans, too." 

In signing off, they ran, they played, kids did what kids are hard-wired to do. They were off their couches, together again, with the hopes and dreams of a new year, a new season.

As of this writing, kids are competing. Computers are waiting at finish lines. Coaches are checking their watches, with the emails -- at least for now -- on hold. And as of this writing, there's an energy back that's been SO needed and SO missed. Here's to keeping the starting guns firing… This has been DNN reporting…

Stay tuned…