XC and Track Athletes Thrive Throughout Pandemic


Senior and 2x State Champion Sam Rodman is running the 1000m.

In examining the perspective of sports and everything related to athletics, things have all changed dramatically during the ongoing pandemic that still persists to this day. That being the case, there have been regulations put in place to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19. Now, this is all known information, but what isn’t known is how it will affect the way people practice the said sport. So that makes people wonder, what is happening “behind the scenes.” What are the coaches and athletes doing to mitigate the chances of contracting the virus? What did the athletes, themselves, do to prepare for the upcoming season with the rules set in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19? 

Coach Rodman, the head coach for cross country and winter and spring track, gave me the inside scoop and a “behind the scenes” view of encouraging safety while also allowing athletes to enjoy participating and competing. The concern with  many sports is the relatively close environment with a lot of people not being distanced apart. What is the most intriguing is what players can do during a sport like cross-country, which is a primarily “close quarters” kind of activity.

“We switch to XC from indoor and need to be careful to safely increase our mileage without risking injury. As a coach, my number one goal is always to make it through the season without injury so my runners [can] continue to progress all four years in high school. This year will also be difficult because about 2/3 of our district opted to forego indoor track to focus on cross country this spring, meaning while we have been focusing on shorter, middle distance efforts, they have also been building their distance base all winter,” said Coach Rodman. 

“I am not entirely sure what will be different except for the obvious mask-wearing and maybe social distancing,” said sophomore Natalie Taylor, who placed in the top ten in the 1000m during states.

Considering their recent success, it is obvious that Coach Rodman and her athletes are doing something right, from a practicing standpoint. However, that doesn’t explain how difficult it can be to get there.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone involved, but for distance runners like those on the XC team, it has affected everyone differently. The hardest part has been training and staying focused on personal goals, really since last May. We typically run long runs all summer to prepare for fall XC, but this year, we ran all summer only to have our season canceled. Fortunately for us, hard work pays off and four of our distance athletes put that hard work to use and broke the school record and placed 3rd in the state for the 4×800 for indoor. We also have Sam [Rodman], who successfully defended his state championship in 1000m,” said Coach Rodman.

So, will this unique season impact the future of the programs at Liberty?

I think the future of XC here at Liberty is bright. We have several younger runners who have joined the team who have the right mix of dedication, work ethic, and determination to be successful.  Pandemic or no pandemic, we will find a way. Last fall, we competed in several races as an AAU team and that helped everyone stay motivated and I think that is something we can fall back on if need be,” explained Coach Rodman.

If any Eagles want to join the cross country, winter, or spring track teams, don’t be afraid to come out!

“If you know of anyone who is looking to find a place where they belong, a place where they can challenge themselves and be a part of an overwhelmingly positive group of runners, we would love to have you. There is no experience required and I promise you will unlock potential you never imagined. Come join us,” added Coach Rodman.