Photo courtesy of: Emily Chen. Leader senior Emily Chen leads her cross country teammates through a stretch called ‘arm stretch’ at Zoom practice. The members are warming up in preparation for their workout of the day, a circuit consisting of jumping jacks, squats, crunches, and other similar exercises.

Cross Country strides through virtual screens

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As the first race quickly approaches, cross country members began independent practice through Zoom on Oct. 7. These practices occur three times a week and last for two hours, during which leaders lead warm-ups, high-intensity interval training cardio, leg, and core workouts, and stretches. Members are encouraged to turn on their cameras when performing workouts. The team receives help from an alumna to ensure that practice attendees are warming up efficiently. 

“Sherrie is an alumna who used to help coach track and field,” leader senior Emily Chen said. “She’s a personal trainer, so she’s really good at properly showing us the right exercises. Before, we would go straight into the workout, but Sherrie provided us with a list of warm-ups that gradually intensify.”

Although the team has heavily encouraged members to participate in practices, attendance has been low. Less than half of the returning members have been showing up to practice. However, Chen, who is the main person leading the Zoom practices, sees this as an advantage for her teammates that do attend.

“There isn’t a large amount of people who attend the Zoom practices, but it’s a nice, small group,” Chen said. “I am able to focus on everybody and make sure they are doing okay. In the beginning, it was difficult for some of us to get a hang of the intense workouts after not working out because of quarantine, but we are easing into it.”

Aside from the small number of returning members attending the Zoom practices, the team has been struggling to recruit new runners. Only one person is joining the team for the first time. To combat this lack of interest, the team members plan to utilize their personal social media accounts to post flyers promoting cross country practice, as well as making a promotional video to showcase in the ASB homeroom videos on Wednesdays.

“The main concern this year is the retainment of members and gaining of new members as with quarantine, people are less motivated to attend practice,” leader junior Johan Oetomo said. “Social media is going to be very important this year, and we are using it to spread the awareness that cross country practice exists. We are also contacting those who were interested in joining the team and signed up at the last freshman summit.”

Despite these issues, Zoom practice will continue until December when the team can officially practice with its coaches. New member sophomore Amy Quach looks forward to these sessions regardless of not being able to practice in a traditional, in-person setting.

“Transitioning into the team as a new member is a little scary to me because I don’t have a friend with me, but it is okay because, so far, the leaders are doing an amazing job with making me feel welcomed and comfortable,” Quach said. “I really enjoy the Zoom workouts so far, and I look forward to the meetings.”

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