What does “Varsity” mean?
This is an important question, and a tricky
one, because (in my mind) there is a technical definition, and a practical one. Let’s
start with the technical one:
For any typical Cross-Country meet, there
are five divisions—three for the boys (varsity, junior varsity and frosh/soph) and two for the girls (varsity and junior
varsity). The two varsity divisions are limited to seven athletes. Which seven? Another good question. I tend to favor upper classmen when choosing my varsity athletes for most meets, but during championship
competition at the end of the season I choose the seven athletes who I think will get us the best score. That usually means the seven fastest, but experience, consistency, sportsmanship, attendance and injuries
are all factors that I have to consider.
So that is the technical definition, and
is relevant for competition. The other definition is relevant for the every-day
Varsity athletes, no matter how fast or
slow they are, are willing to do the hardest work. If I tell everyone to do 5-10
repetitions on a hill, most people will do 5, varsity runners will do 10, and might even ask to do more. Varsity runners come to practice every day, on time, with all of the proper equipment. Varsity runners manage to avoid conflicts with the practice and competition schedule by looking ahead,
staying organized and making Cross-Country a priority. Varsity runners keep their
grades up, and come to me for academic help if they need it. Varsity runners
do not run in order to fulfill their Physical Education requirement, they run because they love to run, and they work hard
because they want to explore their limits, and perhaps venture into unknown territory.
Varsity runners are supportive of both their teammates and their competitors.
Varsity runners take care of themselves thoughtfully, nourish themselves intelligently, hydrate themselves constantly,
rest themselves adequately, attend to illness or injury pro-actively, listen to advice critically, win or lose graciously
and humbly, pursue excellence relentlessly, and play hard occasionally. On
my team, varsity runners are held to a very high standard indeed, but none of these qualities or characteristics that I’ve
listed requires the ability to run fast.
So when I divide the team into groups,
and point to where the varsity runners should go, you don’t need to ask me which group you belong in. You need to ask yourself.