On Oct. 2, 2021, The Laurier Brantford varsity cross country team participated in their first race of the year initiating a new season for Laurier Brantford athletics.
After a year without in-person sports, the time has finally come for sports season to resume, and competitions are now underway.
“It felt amazing out there, having those pre-game jitter emotions before the sound of the gun was refreshing. I haven’t competed in about two years so it was great to be back out there,” said Jackson Rice, a cross country runner for Laurier Brantford.
Jackson Rice, who finished 16th overall for this race, led the men’s team to a solid showing of 7th overall. Running the 8km course in a time of 30:50, Rice showed resilience and determination on his first race running for Laurier Brantford.
For many runners, it had been a while since they would have competed for a university or college team. Especially for newer students entering their first or second year of studies, this season may be a new experience for them.
Naturally, there were bound to be some pre-game butterflies or emotions for runners since it had been a year without events.
“Representing Laurier this year, there are a lot of eyes looking at us after winning provincials in the last year we competed. The pressure is on, but it feels so nice to be back on the course and competing at a high level again,” said Faith Nieson, a cross country runner for Laurier Brantford.
The women’s cross-country team for Laurier made program history in 2019, winning their first OCAA provincial championship title.
Faith Nieson, who placed 5th in the same championship-winning race, returns to the team ready to represent the Golden Hawks once again and continue building off the title win for Laurier.
“Our team is looking good once again and we are excited to go out there, see what we can do, and prove to the other schools that we deserved to be on top and continue to be in a placing position,” continued Nieson.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY MEGAN JACKLIN
Faith Nieson helped the women’s team place 3rd place overall, leading the team by finishing a 6km course in a time of 25:46 placing 4th overall.
As the cross-country program enters its fifth year and continues to grow, the foundation has been built on a winning and competitive culture.
Heading in the right direction, athletes at Laurier pride themselves on intense preparation and training to be ready to give their all for when competitions start.
“Training is very crucial for my sport. Without proper preparation and training, you won’t be able to compete at a high level. Not only is it a physical sport, but it is also a mental sport. So, getting your mind prepared with a healthy mindset is important,” said Rice.
Preparing for distance running is not a simple task and requires adequate preparation to ensure one is safe and efficient. How one diets, trains, and recovers are all essential parts of how a runner can be successful.
Knowing how to pace oneself is also important for runners to avoid early fatigue and unnecessary stress.
The recovery process, such as stretching before and after races, enough water intake, & eating the right foods helps athletes compete at the highest level.
“During the races, it can be really difficult to push through all the mental pain and physical pain that you’re feeling. However, there are certain things you can do and one of them for me, is just focusing on pushing one step at a time,” said Nieson.
Motivation and discipline can help runners continue to push through when trying to finish races. Not only can physical pain hinder an athlete, but the mental aspect can be a damaging factor also.
While running, many different thoughts may come into one’s mind which can discourage the mindset of a runner. But with the advice of Faith, taking one thing at a time is an ideal way to not overwhelm oneself and focus on one thing first.
Since no spectators are allowed at the course, extra support and motivation may seem harder to come by now for runners. However, the discipline one has, as well as the motivations athletes have may help propel one to stay engaged and ready to finish the course they started
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY MEGAN JACKLIN
“I feel like I would let down my parents, coaches, and teammates if I didn’t go out there and give it all I had. Also, my competitive side is what keeps me motivated. I just love competing and love the thrill of it,” said Rice.
Working for a greater goal is often a theme seen in all sports. The drive and passion to compete not only for yourself but teammates, coaches, and one’s parents help shape the never-give-up attitude athletes pride themselves on.
The second race the Golden Hawks will be a part of will take place on Oct. 16, 2021.
With a positive start from their first race, Laurier will hope to grow and have an even stronger showing next time around, with the rest of the Laurier community cheering them on.