Jonathan Dick

Editor’s note: This series of journal entries from Milton Cross Country Coach Jonathan Dick will touch on his navigation through the pandemic while still keeping his young student-athletes ready for competition.

Monday, Aug. 10

Last week at our Cross Country Camp, two-time Olympian, Jackie Martin (now a Milton kindergarten teacher), told the team that the first thing in following your dreams is to “BELIEVE.” Culminating with a progression run on Thursday morning followed a little later by one last run up a mountain, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team come as far in four days as this team did. The seniors stepped up and led by example both in allowing themselves to dream about what this season could be like and in how hard we are going to have to work to turn that into a reality. Before we left, the last thing I reminded the team was that this season was going to be filled with moments that called for flexibility and patience, and that we were going to have to keep learning how to pull together.

I didn’t expect for that “moment” to arrive in the form of the first text message that came through my phone as I drove down into the valley, back into cell service: Gov Wolf’s recommendation that sports wait until January to continue. He later clarified the comment and worked with the PIAA to institute a two-week waiting period on official the start of sports, but not before I had multiple athletes contact me: “Coach — I heard the governor canceled the season…” Moments for patience and flexibility. At the same time that this was happening with the governor, the conference athletic directors were beginning to flesh out the PIAA guidelines on how to make cross country safer. “Yes” to staggered starts, “no” to only allowing 12 on a team to compete, and “yes” to us probably needing a new course. More moments for patience and flexibility. And then this weekend happened and according to Harvard’s county-by-county COVID map that measures cases as a ratio of population, Union County was the first Pa. county since they had created the map over a month ago to move into the “Red” category. When I checked this morning, Union was still the worst in the state, but had moved down to “Orange” while Northumberland, although still “Yellow” had moved up to fourth hardest hit out of the 67 counties. Another moment for patience.

Hold on to those dreams runners and keep believing; we will get through this!

Jonathan Dick is the cross country coach at Milton Area High School. He is in his 13th year coaching cross country, and second as head coach at Milton.

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