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Coach's Corner: Falcon Cross Country

The topic of absences has been a popular one in my email inbox lately, so I thought it would be useful to write a few comments about, first of all, why I think attendance is important, and second, what I believe to be justifiable reasons for being absent.


I often have athletes say things like, “I can’t be there on Tuesday, but I’ll make it up on my own.”  This would be reasonable, I suppose, if running were our shared hobby, or if we had a running club for the purpose of providing motivation and a social network.  A running club would be great, and it would have my full support, and if you couldn’t make a meeting from time to time nobody would care.


Falcon Cross Country is not a hobby or a club.  It is a sport, with a tradition of excellence.  It is physically and mentally challenging, time consuming, and requires dedication and sacrifice.  For many of you, it will be the hardest thing that you ever do.  For some of you, it is the wrong choice.  It may affect how you spend future summers, where you go to college, who your friends are, and how you live your life decades beyond your high school years.  At the end of the season, I will be asked to give you a grade, and you will have earned credits for Physical Education.


During practices, you will run, but you will also learn about improving conditioning, flexibility, strength, power, form, about race strategy, nutrition, hydration, injury-prevention, shoes, supplements, and most of all, what it means to depend on, and to be dependent on your teammates.  This is not something you can “make up” on your own.  During competition, you will learn something about yourself.  You can’t do this on your own either.


There are a few good reasons for being absent.  On your life priority list, family must be at the top.  There will be unanticipated family emergencies (god forbid, but it happens), celebrations (Grandpa and Grandma’s 50th) and other obligations.  Just let me know ahead of time if you can.  ALWAYS drop me a voice mail or email letting me know why you aren’t going to be there.  If you just tell me, it will bounce off like bullets bounce off of Superman.  I may or may not excuse it, but without some contact from you, I definitely won’t.  You do it, don’t leave it up to your mom.  You are in High School, and part of your experience with Cross Country involves learning to take responsibility.


If you are too sick to go to school, don’t even think about coming to practice.  This is definitely an excused absence.  If you are well enough to go to school, I expect you at practice.  Clear enough.


If there is another conflict with a school activity, and I have advance notice, I am likely to excuse the absence.  Examples include band functions, you were trying out for the volleyball team and got cut, you have a Speech and Debate competition, you are doing two sports simultaneously, etc.  For activities outside of school such as (and this is not an complete list, just some examples) club sports, tutoring, piano lessons, orthodontia, getting your hair and nails done before the dance, recitals, birthday parties, scouts, your job at Jamba Juice, your family’s trip to Disneyworld or babysitting your little sister, I am not likely to excuse it.  Remember, you get three unexcused absences before bad stuff happens.  If you anticipate lots more than three during the season, please reconsider your participation in Cross Country.