Nov. 10 marked the final time the remaining members of the Georgia club cross country team would make their practice laps around the track.
While the season was not exactly fruitful from a statistical standpoint — there were two invitational meets where no one from the team placed — the leaders of the team will be the first to say that was never the main goal.
“I think the biggest emphasis is just on having fun, but we definitely make workouts specifically to try to help people improve,” said Nate Massey, a senior from Lawrenceville and the president of the team.
The relaxed mentality has aided the team’s ability to attract new members and focus more on exercise and team building.
“I love to run, and the club team provides a place where a lot of people that also like to run can meet up and run together. So that was a pretty big draw,” Massey said.
The club team is entirely student-run, meaning people such as Massey or vice president Ali LoPiccolo, a sophomore from Alpharetta, are completely in charge of scheduling practices and creating the workouts.
Though they try not to put too much stress on time standards during practice, the two officers believe each runner is motivated enough to find ways to reach their own personal goals.
“It’s kind of like what you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it,” LoPiccolo said.
This lax approach allows the club to be just as social as it is competitive. The team shares a GroupMe in order to organize runs together during the offseason with the people who share the same passion for running as the two leaders. Each officer also cited the team as a group they could go to for anything, whether it was related to running or not.
It does have a drawback, however.
“I think the hardest part is keeping people involved,” LoPiccolo said.
Practices became less crowded as the semester wore on, due to multiple factors ranging from academics being prioritized or the ability of runners to run whenever and wherever without the need of the relaxed practice setting.
“It’s always easier at the beginning of the semester because everyone’s excited to do new things and get involved, and then as it goes on people get busy with other stuff, and we see a decline in practice attendance,” Massey said.
After competing in the invitational events with few favorable results, they missed out on an opportunity to compete for a final time at nationals because they did not have enough people to compete as a team.
Despite the decline in involvement, the structure of the practices and the accepting and social environment surrounding the team do not waver.
“We still want to win, but it’s not a top priority,” LoPiccolo said.