Here we are at the start of another Fall XC season. One thing that I have wanted to touch on for some time is what I perceive as a loss of the sense of community that we all enjoyed growing up. I have heard stories of coaches, grown adults, actually talking "trash" and making derogatory remark towards other schools runners and coaches. Huh??!! How and when did this become acceptable?
Growing up, El Paso was an absolute hotbed for XC talent. The amount of team and individual state medals won is staggering. We ran hard with the aim to win, but we also wanted our neighbors to experience the same success. Teams who had been to the big show (State Meet) mentored younger teams, pulled them along. My team, Eastwood, got a lot of good advice from defending Regional and State champs El Paso High before we went on to win our own Regional title. I'd like to think we did the same thing for Hanks when they succeeded us as Regional Champs.
Everyone was friends, many still are 3 decades later. I had a respect for my coach that was only topped by the respect I had for my own father. He was that important a person in my life. We also had great respect for, and were shown the same respect by, other school coaches. Everyone looked out for everyone. We raced each other hard week after week on Saturday morning and then went to the same gatherings on a Saturday night. Our XC team was more likely to get together with other XC runners than non-runners from our own school. This group of YISD State qualifiers in 1984 were all very familiar with each other, on and off the course.
I think it was this sense of community that led to much of the success that was experienced. At the Region and State levels, prior to the meet, all of the runners came out for the "El Paso!" chant. It was loud and in way, a show of force. It meant something and it served notice to other cities teams that they had to deal with us as a whole. Many times they did not deal to well.
I guess all that I'm saying, is, respect each other as friends and rivals, but most importantly, representatives of your community. I hope that some of the current generation of El Paso XC runners reads this and tells me I am wrong, that it is the same. If not, band together and make me wrong.