The Student News Site of Pella High School


The Student News Site of Pella High School


The Student News Site of Pella High School


Team Before Trophies

Faith Vandenberg
Morgan McAninch and Cameron Knouse run together at the Central course last Saturday.

Coach Doug Cutler decided to pull the cross country team out of their first meet at Bondurant on August 26. Due to safety reasons with the extreme heat, they limited the team to 15 participants for the boys’ and girls’ teams. After thinking it over, Cutler decided to withdraw from the meet.

“I was not at all comfortable picking 30 students who would get to go, and 50 students who would be left behind. It would have been so inconsistent with every message that I tried to put out there the past three months,” said Cutler. “I would have looked at the 30 people who would’ve got to go and would have been excited. But then I would have looked at the list of the 50 people who didn’t go, and I wouldn’t have been able to sleep.”

Last year, both the boys’ and girls’ team won the state championship, and coming off of this winning season, Cutler wanted to make sure that the team was constantly making sure that the environment they were in was a good, healthy one, that would produce well-rounded athletes.

“Defining a team and a season by one outcome is a mistake. We need to be focused on getting better, improving who we are, staying united, helping everyone be a part of the group,” said Cutler. “If we did that, championships would be the outcome from that process.”

The cross country coaches came up with this year’s motto – PACE. It stands for Pursuing a Championship Environment. Inclusivity is very important to the team, and it shows through the close relationships and bonds that all of the team members have with each other.

“To me, PACE means to build team culture, and just forming a good atmosphere. Even if you’re new, we will be there,” said senior Nathan VanderWaal. “Everyone is working to make each other better, and that healthy competition will push us to be our best.”

The team doesn’t just run together. They found that if they were friends outside of the team, that the environment would be better and they could create healthier relationships. The team encourages this by playing disc golf together, having team meals, and some participated in a midnight run this past summer. All of these activities led them to become closer as a cross country team.

“Cross country is unlike any other sport out there. There is so much team bonding. Every day we go out on a run with new people,” said sophomore Marissa Ferebee. “You see each other at your worst; you see each other at your best. It makes you become close to other people.”

Cutler encourages them to run together so that they can push each other to be better. They believe that the last person pushes the person in front of them, and it becomes a chain reaction.

“There are just so many angles and motivations and characteristics to the team that it really brings everyone together and is so diversified,” said Ferebee. “It’s what makes it so special.”

Another motto that the team has this year is Team Before Trophies. It is another play off of PACE, and it encourages the team to remember to put their best foot forward, and that they couldn’t do any of this without their teammates. Team Before Trophies pushes the team to be better as a whole.

“Everyone is pushing the whole thing forward. It’s like the old analogy ‘High tides raise all ships.’ If we create a high tide, everyone is going to get better. Everyone will feel successful,”  Cutler said. “I want every single person on the team to feel like they contributed, and they are part of that championship if it happens.”

The team’s wave of success has led into this year. Both cross country teams have had two meets, and both boys and girls have placed first, with the runners dominating the top spots. Both teams have returners from the state team last year, and with their track record so far, a state championship isn’t out of reach.

“We want to come back strong after our state title last year. We want to have a good culture and make sure that everyone feels included, important, and loved before we focus on pursuing a championship,” said Ferebee. “Knowing that even if your teammates aren’t going into the postseason with us, that they are behind us and we know that they are supporting us.”

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About the Contributor
Faith Vandenberg, Executive Print Editor
Faith is a junior this year, and this is her third year on the staff. She likes to write features, reviews, and opinion articles. She also does a lot of photography for the staff. This is her first year as the Executive Editor of the Pelladium. Outside of school she enjoys working, reading, and spending time with her friends.        

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