Building relationships equals success on the XC trails

The Carver Cougars Cross-Country team made history twice this 2013 season.  First, the girls’ Cougars Cross-Country team went undefeated this season, marking the third year in a row of completing the season undefeated and winning the Southern Division. The Carver girls’ also captured a third-place finish in this year’s Chesterfield County Cross-County Championship meet held at Rockwood park on Nov. 7, 2013. Three of the girls were All-County runners.

Secondly, the boys’ Cougar Cross-Country team also went undefeated making it the first time in the history of the school that both boys and girls cross-country teams went undefeated in the same season. Additionally, the boys’ team were runner-up ( second place) at this year’s Chesterfield County Cross-Country Championship meet held at Rockwood.  Their impressive performance produced five All-County runners in the championship meet.

There are approximately 60 members on the team making this season’s squad larger and more diverse for Coach Barron Cheatham and Coach Chris Persing than ever before. One reason for the increase of talent stems from the influx of military families moving into the Carver community.  For military parents, fitness is a requirement, consequently, the children of military families often become active in sports.  With the reputation of success combined with the relaxed atmosphere and focus on having fun with the Carver Cross -Country team, membership has climbed. Coach Cheatham and Coach Persing feel that running has no cultural barriers and are proud of the level of diversity, as well as success of the team. Their fundamental approach is to build relationships with students while teaching them a lifelong skill.

Both coaches have only been coaching cross-country together for four seasons but individually, they have many years of experience. In fact, they were cross-town rivals when Coach Persing was the coach at Chester Middle School before it closed and merged with Elizabeth Davis and Carver Middle Schools. Both coaches knew that when Carver and Chester ran against one another it was going to be a dog fight to the end. When Chester closed its doors four years ago, Coach Persing came to Carver and it has been a united front ever since.

Part of their success on the field is due to their teaching styles. Chesterfield County Public Schools believes that students’ achievements are higher when the learning is Rigorous, Relevant and a student-teacher Relationship develops. Both coaches have taken this same framework and used it on their athletes to achieve success.  The workouts are always rigorous and present a challenge for the athletes. It is also very relevant; it has never been just about winning but more about knowing  their own personal fitness level, setting individual and team goals, time managing sports and academics, and being accountable. The relationship building is ongoing.  Both coaches take the time to get to know each child because each athlete is unique. Getting to know the parents is equally important. They receive weekly updates via email and a point is made to greet them when they pick their athlete up after meets or practice.

The parents and coaches have had a pancake breakfast and pasta dinner for the team.  Parents volunteer at the meets and bring snacks for the team after they run.  The team does an annual service project for the school where a tree is planted (this year a dogwood was planted), trash around the cross-country trail is cleaned-up, and sometimes a little painting .  The team’s success is measured in more ways than simply winning meets and it is always a work in progress.  The real success of our team stems from the relationships we develop during the season and seeing how little strides of improvements turn into larger successes for the team. The little strides ultimately help them to become better citizens.  All kids want to be a part of something that has a positive image.   

The top scorers on the undefeated girls’ team are eight-graders Morgan Waddill (All-County), Anna Pope (All-County), Holland Chisholm (All-County), Kelsey Bagley, Brittni Pettway, Asia Giles (All-County/Track), seventh-grader Marina Noseck and sixth-grader Olivia Burch. The top scorers on the undefeated boys’ team are eight-graders Justin Blanks (All-County), Marcellous Brown, Kevin McNeilly, Ty Logan (All-County), seventh-grader Daniel Chartters (All-County), sixth-graders Hawkins Adcock (all-County) and Jonathan Pope (All-County).

Note: All-County is finishing in the top 25 in the Chesterfield County Cross-County championship meet.

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