Cross Country-Pure,simple, real and missed by a retired coach.

This Sunday was the Aggie Stampede CC meet at Saint Agnes on Newburg road. Why were we there?

The course is tight and is best guided by a “rabbit.” No motorized vehicles will do. There has always been a cx rider acting as a rabbit. Brad Swope in previous years, but this year Will and I got the call. Vincent Nold helped us out in the last race.

It was a tough, hilly, rain soaked and bumpy course. Will was rock solid riding 6 laps of about a mile course.

Although presently, I am partial to bike, CC is compelling. There is purity. Complex rules, time-outs, fancy equipment, officials, “film sessions” are all absent. Just legs, heart, lung and head against others. You are out there exposed to the masses to see. It is as real as it gets. Look at the faces of our girls on the line. Of my 5 years in CC, this is my favorite photo. ( Thanks to Dr D Lohr)

Oh my, those sensations of the start line. The belly twitching, thumping heart beat, sweaty hands and that stare right through people trying to talk with you. I wonder how many have not experienced these sensations. It is never to late to get motivated and enlist your being to a competitive cause and toe the line.

This was a reunion of sorts for me. Staci and I enjoyed a long chapter in our life coaching CC at Saint Agnes. Catherine is a proud St Agnes graduate. When she was in fourth grade we needed to find her a sport. So it began.

I was a runner/cyclist at the time. Staci and I had zero experience in CC. This ended up as an advantage.

Our first year was rough. Just a few kids despite the large school. I soon learned that CC was not about training and coaching, but rather, recruiting of talent.

The plan: Buy nice jerseys and hoodies. Nothing motivated kids like hoodies. How cool is Staci? She had the idea to bring the hoodies to school before the kids arrived and put each runners sweatshirt in their locker as a surprise. What a day that was; it was 80 degrees but all had their hoodies.

Second, get a booth at registration. This was the game changer. Using my east coast pushiness, I set up a table at registration for CC sign-ups. It was just as parents walked in. Like phishing on the internet, it looked like parents had to talk to me because the table looked official. So they did and I had my chance to recruit. Grin.

Our recruiting line: CC would be easy on the family. Practices would be short, twice weekly, parents would not have to sign up to be officials and CC meets have 6 races and are over in under 2 hours. Kids could also do other sports AND run. Races were 3-12 minutes.

Staci designed fun games at practices, we had smiles and popsicles after the runs. Parents and pets were encouraged to run with the team.

We soon had 50+ kids including an amazingly gifted group of girls who won many city championships and top 5’s in the state meet. It was a nice 5 year run.

Catherine graduated and Will now runs for Walden. We retired form coaching the Aggies 2 years ago. Coaches David and Annette Calhoun and Dennis Ford are now doing a great job.

We miss the team, the parents, the courage and the overwhelming positivity of the CC community. I see so many similarities in cyclocross. Let’s hope the cycling community can emulate the CC spirit.

JMM