First-year reflections

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The first time I saw the Macalester cross country uniform I was going to be running in for three months, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. I don’t like running in front of people, period, so the thought of running in front of people in bundies, which are essentially underwear, made me a little worried. Fortunately, the great thing about cross country is that during races you are too focused on running strong, and on how much pain you’re in, to care who’s watching you.

And as it turned out, by the last race I hardly noticed the uniform, or lack thereof, anymore. Instead, I was left with memories of running to the river, and miles beyond, of especially enjoyable runs through the changing leaves on Summit Ave, of several grueling workouts (Ramsey Hill, anyone?), of eating bagels and bananas on the bus on Saturday mornings, and of a close and supportive group of men and women who love to run.

My first season on the Mac CC team was a very positive experience. At first, I was concerned that I might get behind on my homework, but I found that I still had plenty of time to procrastinate between practices.

My teammates were my first friends here, and we got close very quickly, because between practice everyday, meets on the weekends, and all the other team “activities,” we spent a lot of time together during those first couple of months.

The other first-year runners helped me adjust to life at Mac, and through our common fears and apprehensions we found our places on the team and on the campus. The upperclassmen were also incredibly supportive and welcoming, answering our questions and giving us experienced perspectives on college life.

Looking back, I believe joining the cross country team was one of the best decisions I could’ve made. I got to see an inspiring group of senior runners make it all the way to Nationals, I was introduced to racing at the college level, and I got to do something I love with people I loved to be around. I’m already excited to see what next season will bring. And, of course, I’m excited for three more years of those awesome blue bundies.

By Nate van wylen

Contributing Writer

Soccer players were required to arrive at school two weeks prior to the start of school in order to prepare for the grueling soccer season in front of us. The preseason consisted of eating, sleeping and playing soccer– literally. Soccer began at 8 a.m. and didn’t end until 2 p.m. Practice was followed by an afternoon nap, dinner, and then the exhilarating night life of the empty freshman dorms.

The night time activities varied from playing washers, watching Seinfeld on Turck 4, bowling, sleeping, and reading Don Quixote. Most of us were in bed by 10 to ensure that we had enough energy to make it through Coach Barker’s intense practices.

The regular season came rather quickly and soon we began to have games three to four times a week. I was able to sit on the bench for varsity games and play for a few minutes every once in a while, but the JV experience was by far the best.

Playing soccer was a great way to begin my college life at Macalester. I was able to arrive at Macalester and get adjusted without hundreds of other freshman trying to do the same thing. It was also nice to get to know people before school started so that I could skip orientation and sleep.

Once school started, soccer provided a nice balance for my life. I was usually busy during the day with either schoolwork or soccer, but I never felt overwhelmed and I got most of my homework done.

I’ve found that most of my high school teachers were lying when they said that I would not be prepared for college; it’s not that bad. Outside of soccer I hang out with a lot of the soccer freshman mentioned above and also other friends we have made in our dorms. As I reflect upon the season I must say it was a good experience and I am looking forward to the next season.

By Sonia Muzikarova

Contributing Writer

When I arrived for the pre-season there were many new things, both little and big, to get used to, starting with details like we were practicing in the same jerseys [we played in], and were having check-ins at the beginning of each practice, when we would say how our day was going so far, and finishing with “I am ready to go.”

Even the organization of the game was different. But after all, it was still volleyball, the common interest we’ve shared, and the teammates were very supportive from the beginning. They all were nice, accessible, open, and caring. I’ve enjoyed being around them, and I still do, they are so fun!

I’ve played volleyball for 10 years in my country (Slovakia), so I have quite an experience with balancing it with classes, and schoolwork. It requires a clear focus, you have to have you priorities straight, and sacrifice other things when you want to succeed as an athlete, and a student.

So, yes, I’ve missed the most of the International, and the “normal” freshman orientation, as well as my social life out of the volleyball collective was non-existent. Even today, I recognize faces of international freshmen but don’t even know their names. But it was totally worth it.

I love volleyball, it is an inseparable part of my life, and now that the season is over, I miss it much. At the end of the season I was looking forward to having more time both for the school work, and social life. And yes, I got to know many new people lately, I have a decent social life but I was paradoxically able to organize my time better during the season.

We are already planning strategies for the next season, and we’ve been talking a lot about why things did not work as we wanted them to, what could we improve (each of us, and as a team), and we are excited for the next season. We’ll have a strong roster as individuals the next season, and we need to find a way how to make the chemistry on the court work, and make sure we all are on the same page. I have strong expectations for the next season. The team has a great potential, we just need to take an advantage of it.

By Franz Meyer

Contributing Writer

Joining the cross country team was the best decision I’ve made since coming to Mac. After my senior season of high school running, I felt pretty much burned out. I still liked to run, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it competitively anymore. I signed up for the team almost out of obligation, and forced myself to train during the summer.

Then I arrived on campus a day early and went running with my RA Said Guled, who is a junior on the team. The nonchalant way he talked of eight mile runs in under an hour scared me, to tell the truth. However, during preseason I began to get to know the team and found a group of friends that welcomed me into the fold and helped me get used to being at college.

I quickly fell into the familiar cross country routine, and began to enjoy running all over again. The familiar faces of my teammates on the first day of classes made that nerve-wracking experience much easier and made facing the cafeteria a fun experience every day. Instead of walking in and seeing a thousand people I didn’t know, all I had to do was look for the cross country table, and I knew there would be a spot for me with people who knew my name!

Finding something to do on the weekends was also no problem, because there were team parties and activities planned by the upperclassmen. All in all, Macalester became home so much faster because of the cross country team.

Besides being my first fast friends at Mac, cross country was a place and group that I could retreat to when the work got hard or I had to get out of the dorm. Sometimes you just have to get out of the dorm, no matter how much you like everyone you live with, and I was able to do that every day.

Also, the transition from totally structured high school life to the much more free flowing college style was helped along by the practice schedule. There was somewhere I had to be
every day. I had to go to bed at a fairly reasonable time or else I would be unable to run fast the next day. Indeed, while everyone around me stayed up until 3 a.m., I would try to turn out the light by midnight.

So, joining the cross country team was more than worth the hours of running and sweat that I put in; it has become an integral part of my life.