FORT WORTH — The only thing cross country runners want to do after a race, is nothing.
“I collapse almost every time,” said junior Andy Le.
Fellow junior Kirsten Sibley echoed the sentiment.
“Every time I finish, I’m on the ground about to puke,” she said.
It’s not an unexpected side effect, according to Boys’ Head Coach Matt Winn.
“If they run the race correctly, they should have absolutely nothing left,” Winn said.
That’s why what Southwest Christian School (Fort Worth) does is so impressive, and it made an impression on one mother who sent a letter to the school.
“You brought tears of joy to a mother, coaches, and teachers who witnessed your sportsmanship with one of our runners,” one line of that letter reads.
After SCS runners cross the finish line, they take a moment to recover, and then go encourage every other runner who hasn’t yet finished.
“You’ll see a kid who is just struggling, and in their brain, they’re about to die,” said Girls’ Head Coach Coby Bird. “They don’t think they can make this anymore. And when all of the sudden, they’re surrounded by all these other kids who are telling them, ‘We believe in you. You can do this. You’re tough, you’re strong.’ Just all of the sudden, it’s a second wind, right?”
It’s not always easy to return to the course after you’ve finished a long race.
“The idea to get up and go back to where you came from, to where you were hurting is asking a lot of the kids,” Winn said.
But Coby Bird started the cross country program at Southwest Christian School 10 years ago, and his athletes have always been taught to encourage other runners.
“Misery loves company, and at the end of the race, you’re pretty miserable,” Le said. “As soon as we go back there and help them up […] it’s just a great thing to see and do.”
It’s not just kids encouraging other runners. Coach Bird says if you’re a part of this program — if you’re a parent, sibling, or grandparent — you’re asked to cheer for every runner, not just the ones from Southwest Christian School.
The mother of the runner from Leadership Prep School in Frisco finished her letter like this: “You have not only made Leadership Prep most grateful, but your parents should be proud knowing you have kind and selfless daughters.”