Cross Country |
Aug. 24, 2011
By Mario Cannon
For the last 11 years the University of Cincinnati's men's and women's cross country teams have traveled to Greenbrier Youth Camp to spend a week in preparation for the upcoming season. This year from August 29th through September 4th, the team will travel to Lewisburg, W. Va., where it all began, the birth of the camps and their creator, head coach Bill Schnier.
"Most teams don't have camps because they're on semesters, there's no need to have camp come the first of August," Schnier said. "There are few teams who do for a little bit. But honestly, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a camp better than this one. Nobody does what we do."
It is a true camping experience set up for team bonding, great training and season preparations. From the greenery, woods, open fields, running trails, hills, a pool, and a river to wooden cabin dormitories equipped with bunk beds, dining halls, and rafting; team members will also engage in seminars with guest speakers.
The other four camps in the sequence include Hocking Hill State Park in Logan, Ohio; Brown County State Park in Nashville, Ind; Camp Wesley in Bellefontaine, Ohio; and Canter Cave 4-H Camp in Jackson, Ohio.
"Camp every year is an amazing opportunity for us as a team to form a bond before we start our season," senior Eric Finan and captain for the previous two years stated with expectation. "It gets us in the right mindset to prepare ourselves physically and mentally for the season. It helps prepare the new guys especially, making the adjustment from the high school 5K race to the collegiate 8K."
This year's camp will include great activities in addition to physical workouts. Each day there will be morning and evening runs, approximately four miles for the women, and six miles for the men. Schnier estimates that the total amount of miles the men's team will run will be 100 while the women will do about 60 that week. Speakers will engage in discussions related to race strategy, goal setting, even selecting the correct running shoes. Other activities will include a scavenger hunt, whitewater rafting, visiting the local golf resort - the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. - church service and the most popular event, the cross country talent show.
The talent show takes place on Saturday the last night at the camp and tends to be one of the most memorable moments for many of the athletes. Everyone is required to participate. Finan mentioned that even Schnier partakes in the show, usually telling very exciting stories that the whole team enjoys. Finan also explained that the talent show is one of the ways that the team learns a little more about one another, particularly their individual personalities.
"The older people really take care of the younger people, and that's been our tradition for a long time," Schnier stated. "Their goal is to make them a part of the team right away, and feel like they're part of it all."
Becoming "a part of the team" is not simply joining and running on it when referring to University of Cincinnati's distance runners, but becoming a part of a close knit group, all working towards common goals. The distance runners tend to be an enjoyable group of people to be around. They are playful, welcoming, hard working, resilient, and full of life and character. Many people who have interacted with them would agree they are what you want in a team and teammates. Not only do they live together, but they appear to be just like a second family to one other.
"Sometime the track team says, the distance runners really seem to get along well," Schnier said proudly. "I think other (event) groups would say, I wish we could do some of the those things too. A lot of that has to do with going to that camp."
This bond will be very important, specifically for the women's team who has three returners and a majority of newcomers. Schnier spoke with high expectations for them because he's aware of what they've done in the past and hopeful that it will set precedent for what they will do in the future.
"We've got a nice team," Schnier said optimistically. "Both teams are really good. I don't know much about the women because we only have three girls returning, which means we have 12 that are new. I don't really know the new people, but they had some good marks in the past. I'm looking forward to seeing them."
Schnier has faith in his team and their abilities. His goals and expectations for this year are one in the same. He anticipates this season to be better than last year, and that the team will move up in rankings in the All-Ohio Championship, BIG EAST Conference Championship, and the Great Lakes Region. On an individual basis, Schnier expects the former cross country Great Lakes Regional Champion and track and field all-American Eric Finan to become an all-American again.
With a good start beginning with camp, to the highly anticipated season, the team should have a strong championship finish.