Steamboat cross country fuels champions through family culture
With an emphasis on personal goal setting and individual growth, the Steamboat Springs cross country team has a strong foundation of support that is rare in high school locker rooms.
With nearly 60 athletes on the roster, the coaches do their best to take a step back and let each athlete decide for themselves what they would like to achieve.
Head coach Lisa Renee Tumminello points to this type of goal setting as the reason for the loyalty and respect her athletes have for each other.
The four team captains — two male and two female runners — were voted on by the athletes. The captains spoke about maintaining the legacy of those before them and keeping the energy high.
“We’re trying to keep the team in a great place and foster the culture that we have for this whole team, especially since Lisa Renee has been here,” junior captain Michael Hagney said. “It’s pretty cool that the team nominates everybody and chose me and others to lead the team.”
At its core, Steamboat is a younger group with over 20 runners graduating from the team last year. Tumminello has enjoyed watching the captains and a dedicated senior class support the others and be there for them no matter what.
Running five kilometers can test the runners mentally, as they have to keep pushing themselves to the finish.
“It’s a demanding sport,” said senior captain Margaux Shea. “You have to go through the pain cave every day, but it’s all about being there for each other. This is more than a team. It’s a family, and that is how every single person feels on this team.”
The group traveled to Kremmling for the West Grand Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 3, and despite it being the first meet of the season, they dominated.
Both the boys and girls teams won in the five-school competition with eight Steamboat girls finishing in the top 10 and four Steamboat boys doing the same. Senior captains Autumn Oslowski and Trevor Harms each won their races, taking home gold for the girls and boys.
“It’s cool to see this team that I’ve known for a while now and see them all improving,” Harms said. “I’ve noticed a lot of strong looking runners this year.”
Tumminello explained the biggest goal she has is teaching her athletes how to love running for the rest of their lives. For her, the results in meets mean nothing if the runners do not enjoy every second of their time on the team.
Oslowski has bought into Tumminello’s guidance since her freshman year and now gets the opportunity to preach the same things to the newer runners on the team.
“It’s just important to remember that we’re all in this together, and we do this and keep coming back because it’s fun, enjoyable and memorable,” Oslowski said.
The athletes have brought a high level of energy to start the season, and the support has been infectious.
The team will travel to the Liberty Bell Invitational in Denver on Saturday, Sept. 10. With more than 100 schools represented and 23 teams competing in its division, Steamboat is excited for the challenge.
“Champions happen when you are focused on the right stuff,” Tumminello said. “You’re focused on the character and the integrity and goal setting and everything that is important to us as the whole team. If you’re just chasing results, then sometimes you forget the other stuff.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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