HARVARD -- Replacing former head coach Ray Dunn, Kristen Taschereau, the new Girls' Cross Country Coach at Bromfield, is setting out to regenerate interest in the sport at the high school.
"My primary goal is to bring the interest back up. Cross country can be a lot of fun. You get to run in the woods and enjoy nature. I want to get more athletes interested in the sport," said Taschereau.
I was familiar with the area, and it seemed like coaching the girls' team was a perfect match. I am looking to rebuild the girls' team. It was popular a couple of years ago, but running dropped off, however, the interest is still there. Bromfield is known for producing a world-class running athlete, Lynn Jennings. That says a lot about the program."
The biggest obstacle Taschereau will be overcoming this season is maintaining the interest level on the Girls' Cross Country team. "A lot of schools are having retention issues. There is a lot of competition with other sports in the fall, since there are so many of them," she said. "There is also winter and spring track, so some of the athletes might not want to do three seasons of running." Despite the low numbers for the sport, Tashchereau remains upbeat and focused on the young team. "We have 23 girls on the team; a majority of them are in middle school. More and more high schools now have middle-school participants due to the small numbers of high-school runners," she said. "The middle-school athletes can keep up with the high-school students. They have a lot of energy and they are very chatty, so they get along really well."
She also stresses the importance of having upperclassmen on the team. "It is important to have a good captain on the team," said Taschereau. "It helps me having the captains' assistance because I wasn't there last year. It can be challenging being a new coach. They help fill me in on what they have done in the past." Assisting Taschereau this fall in keeping the team unified are senior captains Kate Rowatt and Bhavani Hodgkins.
Having been on the team for only two years, Rowatt has already made an impact on the team and gotten recognition as a leader. Reflecting on last season with her team, Rowatt states how important team spirit and bonding will affect this year's performance. "Last season, our team bonded really well and helped our team gain confidence and rejuvenate our team as well," said Rowatt. "Sometimes it can be difficult running with the middle-school runners and their different skill levels. A lot of the middle-school runners have a ton of energy and can keep up with us. We help each other out."
Despite its small size, the Bromfield team has great talent to offer. "Sophia Collins, a sophomore, went to states last year," said Rowatt. "Alexia Lipman, a junior, went to states last year. She took a break from running cross country, but now she is back, and she is a phenomenal cross country and track participant."
She remains focused on the team having fun this season, rather than winning every meet. "I want everyone to improve over the season and to enjoy running," said Rowatt. "I don't want to necessarily win every meet we go to, but for everybody on the team to enjoy the overall experience of running."
While other sports teams will be facing physical challenges, Rowatt confronts her mental state before cross country meets. "My challenge this season will be just getting over nerves before the meets," said Rowatt. "I just want to assure everybody on the team that they are running because they love to run, and not focus on a specific time. When you are out there running for fun and enjoyment, then you are able to improve your time."