Jonathan Dick

Editor’s note: Today, we begin the first of a series of journal entries from Milton Cross Country Coach Jonathan Dick. As the uncertainty of COVID still lingers in scholastic sports, Dick will touch on his navigation through the pandemic while still keeping his young student-athletes ready for competition.

June 2

All coaching thoughts are now turning to cross country – spring track, or what was the shell of track is now a “never was.” At least there will be no more weekends of “today should have been PHACs – wonder how the 4x8 would have done” or “today was the 9th/10th grade meet, would Leah have beaten her 800 school record?”

With the class of 2020 done with class, the juniors are now officially “seniors” and our incredible senior class led by Tanner (Milton’s first athlete with four cross country state appearances), Colton and Ariane (with three state appearances each) are off to start their individual journeys.

They say, “out with the old, in with the new,” but that is a challenge. Normally, (Athletic Director) Rod Harris would have arranged for “interest” meetings for fall sports and we would be able to get together. I have planned a “virtual” interest meeting, but we shall see how many show up.

The students are so tired of meeting on TEAMS (the Microsoft equivalent of Zoom) — will my e-mail invitation be enough of a hook to get them to come? I’ve tried to stress the success of our program on both the girls and the guys side, and also the unique individual and team dynamics of cross country.

There is no hiding in cross country — the team success is built around how well each athlete has trained and how much each athlete can push through his or her personal temptations to quit or slow down — do they listen to the “I can’ts” in their head or the “I cans”? We had a good eighth grade class in middle school cross country, but many times our best athletes in high school are runners who just decide to give cross country a try as freshmen or sophomores.

I get excited about thinking about forming a new team — even though I won’t be there to see them in person, maybe this virtual interest meeting will work!

Jonathan Dick is cross country coach at Milton Area High School.

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