Cross Country Team Honored

Shoemaker HS cross country team honored
By: Todd Martin
They start working out weeks before the school year begins and continue practicing in the early morning the first nine weeks of the school term to prepare to run 3.2 miles competitively.
High school cross country is tough and members of the Shoemaker High School team have drawn attention to their encouraging ways in the midst of their rigorous sport.
After finishing a race, Shoemaker runners make it a habit to go back and root on competitors still working to complete the course.
During the season, as parents and coaches began to take notice, Lisa Blackman, campus instructional specialist at the school nominated the hard-working, sportsmanlike athletes for a congressional award.
On Tuesday, Julie Sharifian of U.S. Congressman John Carter’s office presented each Shoemaker cross country athlete and coach a certificate as a “Congressman Carter A-Lister.”
In the nomination, Blackman pointed out that the team has been successful, taking first place in four races and breaking a school record. “However, the best reward they have received is the respect from other teams and their coaches for the superior level of sportsmanship during the contests,” the nomination states.
“We’re all struggling to finish the race,” said Shoemaker junior Justin Winters, “it’s 3 miles and it’s always challenging. We’re just trying to encourage others to finish.”
Shoemaker cross country coach Michael Wambsgans joined the team last year and talked a lot about sportsmanship. Without any prompting from coaches, the runners started encouraging one another during practice and then began doing the same in meets.
“They finish the race, then they go back in the course and try to motivate and push others,” Wambsgans said.
The second or third meet of the season, parents and coaches from other teams started finding the Shoemaker coaches and letting them know they noticed the Grey Wolf athletes.
“They came to us and told us it was wonderful what they were doing,” he said. “This is what a coach dreams of hearing.”
Cross country begins practice three weeks before the start of the school year and weekday practices start at 7 in the morning. This week, Shoemaker is preparing for the district meet in Waco.
Shoemaker senior Darnyell Parker said he thought he first noticed his teammate Winters encouraging cross country runners during meets. “The races are hard and it takes a lot of mental strength,” he said. “We have to push to the finish line. It’s good to spread sportsmanship.”
The two runners said team members first began motivating teammates and that the effort then spread to encouraging other teams as well.
“We try to encourage everyone to finish,” Winters said. “We know it hurts and we want to always help others, to spread the positivity.”
“You hope the lessons in athletics translate to life lessons,” Wambsgans said, “to being a part of a team and helping each other.”