Recently John Patterson sat down with Roger Raymond, Athletic Director at Charter Middle School for an update on the School’s cross country program. Here is some of their conversation:
(Q) How is Charter Middle School cross country doing so far since school started?
(A) Cross country is going really well so far. Our eighth grade girls have a lot of experience. They have won a lot of meets since they came to school. Partly this is obviously due to ability and, of course, they work hard. This is the year that we predicted we would be really strong. It just happens that we have a lot of good eighth grade girls. This doesn’t happen very often. We always have lots of sixth graders who are keen but, by the time they have reached eighth grade, they don’t have the same interest in whatever sport they have been doing. This year we have around eleven eighth graders participating in cross country. Normally, you will have four or five.
(Q) Cross country is one of the few sports that require individual effort, although you refer to it as a “team”. When it comes to the crunch, it’s down to the individual, isn’t it?
(A) Yes, it’s an individual sport that has team aspects. In other words, if you are on a team to challenge other schools, they may be bigger and have more kids. If you have one strong individual you may, or may not, have the opportunity to excel as a team. If you have one runner that is really outstanding and nobody else on the team to support that strength, you will not necessarily have the top team score. The lowest times (taken to complete the course) win. In a strict cross country race, every team is comprised of seven runners. The first five runners to cross the finish line, i.e. with the shortest times, win points. For a team to win a perfect score of 15, the team’s runners would have to come in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th in a race, which is pretty hard to do.
(Q) You still have the ones that shine. Do you wish to mention individuals?
Here’s the thing: A lot of kids have natural athletic ability. If you take someone who has that type of ability and on top of that they work hard, they become very talented. Rosie Poling has run a lot besides here; she’s running 5Ks, that is, 3.1 miles against our normal distance of 2 miles. The distance for her is not a problem. She needs to continue to develop to get stronger with speed. Endurance is not a problem; she already has that. She runs so much; everyone in her family is a runner.
As a team, we have had four of our top seven runners back this year. Three who are in the top five now were not even in the team last year. That’s how well we are developing. Taylor Fetzer was not in last year. Jen Carter moved in from Michigan (also a great soccer player) and in pretty good shape. Jen has been our number 1 and 2 runner in track and cross country. Rosie was in fifth grade last year so those three, in addition to the four we had back, make up the top seven. There are other eighth graders that are good runners but are not achieving the results that would move them into the cross country team. Every school registers their nominated team of seven runners. The remainder of the kids run for experience and try to improve their times.
(Q) Tell us about the trophies. The small one—how was that won?
(A) That race was the Pine Ridge Invitational and every Collier County Public School was there. They separate the kids by grade and each runner competes against kids from his or her own grade level. The eighth grade girls won their division, beating all 10 Collier County schools which are at least twice our size. It may the smallest trophy but it was a great accomplishment. A win we are all very proud of.
(Q) What about future cross country runs?
(A) Right now, we have defeated every team in the county that we have run against. MICMS have run against Oakridge Middle School. On Friday, October 1, the cross country team met with St. Elizabeth Seton and they met with Manatee Middle School on Monday, October 4.
The Collier County Athletic Conference (CCAC), which involves all Public / Middle Schools in the Collier County area will hold its Championship on October 30 at Cypress Palm Middle School. On October 26, we enter the Sunshine Athletic Championship at First Baptist Academy. So there will be two really big meets that week.
(Q) Do you have any other comments?
(A) Head Coach, Dave Johnson, and Assistant Coach, Gale Collins, of volleyball are also having a great season. There are more than 50 kids in volleyball and 40 kids in cross country. The Charter School has three girls’ volleyball teams that compete in local competitons: A-Team Girls 7th and 8th grade are coached by Dave Johnson and Gale Collins.; 7th and 8th grade B-Team girls are coached by Stephanie Percel and Amber Prange, who also coach the C-Team and the 6th grade girls.
By the way, the soccer field is getting in shape—it’s being treated for fire ants, etc. Jim Hodgdon Parks and Recreation is doing a great job. We have been successful, not only in participation but also on the field; not just in terms of winning, but how the kids represent the school and the Marco community. It’s been a great season so far.
According to John Patterson of Coastal Breeze News:
All the girls of the MICMS’ volleyball team gave 110% effort, when they played Oakridge Middle School on Saturday, October 2. Their effort and attitude paid off. It was a very exciting game that went to a third play which the Charter Girls won. A great performance by the girls and coach Johnson and Collins! The game was very well attended by moms, dads, grandparents, and Charter School supporters.