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A Glimpse into Being on the Grove City College Women’s Varsity Cross Country Team

In the fall, Professor Sweet taught a class endearingly called Internet Content Marketing. In this course, students learned the importance of tailoring content to particular audiences in order to make a profit or showcase credibility. Towards the end of the semester, Professor Sweet asked the students to put their lessons into practice and write articles for this blog. As the editor of this site, I had the awesome opportunity to read all of these articles and choose the ones that I thought our readers would find most interesting. This particular piece is by Mackenzie Tressler, she writes about her journey deciding to join the cross country team. Enjoy!

From a high school perspective, being on a college varsity team seems quite intimidating and scary, which often deters many from continuing their beloved high school sport onto the collegiate level.

When I was a senior in high school, I knew I did not want to stop running cross country, but was so scared to move from the top of the food chain to the very bottom, once again. I was committed to attending Grove City College, had met the wonderful team and coach, talked to other incoming freshman, but the nerves would not settle. I went through every day of summer training with my mind locked on the idea that I would not be good enough for the team, would not fit in, or would just not be able to handle the intensity of being on a college team. People told me all the time how I should not worry, but I made a big mistake by not completely listening.

Once summer ended and it was time to head off to college, I was so nervous, yet even more excited. I arrived with a truck full of too many clothes and unnecessary items ready to meet my new teammates and coach. Once I found coach Severson’s office, grabbed my room key and headed off to my new dorm, things started to seem less intimidating. I got out of my weird mindset to realize that my new coach and teammates were no more intimidating than those from my high school program. I met my new roommate, who coincidently was also my teammate, and the excitement continued while the nerves settled.

Contrary to my extreme expectations, practices were not full of 10-mile runs or endless mile repeats until I puked, but rather full of varying lengths and intensities that were still hard, yet still very manageable. Camp week was full of learning about the program and how to take advantage of the resources provided.

Coach Severson has two important mantras that I have learned and listened to over these past three seasons: “unbreakable” and “focus on what you can control.” These mantras and the stories behind them have shaped me into the calm and confident runner I am today by molding my attitude and motivation for training and performance a positive and selfless one. Despite any “losses,” the team knows that we cannot be broken due to the powerful mindset that we won’t be conquered, especially with our attention set toward placing Christ above all else. Coach Severson constantly tells the team to “focus on what you can control.” It reminds us that we cannot control how fast our opponents are racing, how muddy the course is, what the weather is like, but there are many things we can control. We are reminded that we can control our effort, stretching, lifting, eating, breathing, prayer and mindsets. When our focus is on simple things, we become better as a whole, without adding the extra pressure or stress on focusing on what others are doing.

Being on the team is rewarding in every aspect, whether it is athletically or socially. I have become a much stronger runner through this program, but have felt the most comfortable and confident with the hard training than I ever would without it. It has been an extreme blessing to go out on an early Saturday morning 10-mile run, with my teammates and best friends by my sides, chatting and laughing the whole time. This team is very unique as we are not just running partners, but friends and family. It is not too common for an entire team to get daily meals together, but because we all respect and truly love one another, it is a joy to spend even more time together.

The team is full of fun, as well as serious and intense dedication. Do not expect anything to be easy, because if it is too easy, one’s potential is not being reached. Expect to work hard and feel uncomfortable, but to feel amazing at the end of the week full of accomplishment and success, knowing the hard work always pays off in some way or another.


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