Submitted to Easton Patch:
“Life is a collection of moments.”
Those were the words from Cross Country Coach Neil Levine as he addressed his team on the first day of practice. On Monday August 27th his squad experienced one of those moments, as they hit the beach for their 13th annual Nantucket trip.
At 6 a.m., 120 student/athletes and chaperones rubbed the sleep from their eyes and boarded busses headed for Hyannis. Alongside saltwater taffy stands, t-shirt shops and old fishing boats, they climbed up the gangway of the ferry to embark on their ocean crossing.
“My first time on a boat was the Nantucket trip when I was a freshman” said OA number one runner Dan Moverman.
Disembarking in the land of multi-million dollar beach shacks, high end yachts and designer shops, the column of over one hundred orange clad harriers and their coaches cast an imposing sight. “We have a presence wherever we go” said OA senior girls’ captain Megan Fitzgerald.
The training began downtown. The runners snaked their way over cobblestone streets, past quaint bed and breakfast inns, for a three mile warm-up run. As they made their way out of downtown Nantucket and headed for Surfside Beach, the scenery began to change. The runners past, scrub brush, bikers, and moms with strollers making their way out to the shore. “It gets a little crowded out there” said OA assistant coach Kyle Sousa.
Once they arrived at the beach the real work began. Under a blazing sun, the athletes completed a workout of 800 meter (half mile) interval repeats.
“The run out to the beach is a warm-up to get the kids ready for the tough stuff.” said Coach Levine.
Senior boys ‘captain, Bobby Kline completed six sets of repeats. “I felt good during the workout “said Kline. “I ended up running fifteen miles today” he added.
Once the interval session was completed, the team spread out on the sand for core strengthening work. With vacationing tourists and surfers in board shorts looking on in amazement, the squad gathered in a giant circle. The athletes completed a one hour routine that strengthens their bodies and stretches their muscles. They did this in complete silence, following visual cues from their coaches.
“We keep the kids quiet and focused when they are working out. We want them to think about what we are trying to accomplish. It’s a tool we use to get the mind to control the body” said longtime OA Coach Judy Copley.
After the workout, the team got an hour of rest and relaxation on the beach. Some kids ate lunch. Others built sand castles. A few chose to take a nap and a handful dipped their toes in water.
“It’s cheeseburger time for me” said OA runner Richie Wertz.
Once rested and refueled, the Tigers laced up their trainers one more time for a four mile run back into town. Their destination was Children’s’ Beach. There, they were able to stretch, clean up and head to dinner. “I always look forward to the run back into town” said OA senior Jacob Hazel.
In one of the most amazing feats of speed that day, The Fog Island Café was able to feed 120 hungry athletes a hot, fresh, delicious meal in under a half hour. “I have been in the restaurant business my whole life. What those guys did is amazing” said Coach Levine (owner of .
With their bellies full, the Tigers got some free time to explore downtown Nantucket and buy some souvenirs. At 8:30 p.m., they boarded the ferry for their journey across the ocean and return trip home.
Just past midnight, the busses pulled into the parking lot at Oliver Ames High School. The team disembarked, trained, tanned and exhausted. Junior harrier Britton Copley said it best. “Coach talked about life being a collection of moments. Today we collected a bunch that will last a lifetime. It’s a great way to kick off the season.”