On the Starting Line: New cross country coach motivates the team

Cross+country+headcoach+Laura+Roxberg+interacts+with+the+team+before+they+begin+the+day%E2%80%99s+workout.+Photo+by+Austin+Fultz.

Cross country headcoach Laura Roxberg interacts with the team before they begin the day’s workout. Photo by Austin Fultz.

At the beginning of the track, cross country runners prepare to begin their workout. As they get in position, their coach gives them pointers for the day’s run. This year, however, the head coach is math teacher Laura Roxberg.

Roxberg, who began teaching at North this year, said being a cross country coach along with her teaching job was important to her.

“I’ve always known I’ve wanted to teach and I just couldn’t imagine teaching and not coaching because running has been such a large part of everything in my life, so I’ve always felt like it was something I was supposed to do,” Roxberg said.

For the students who have been on cross country in the past three years, shifting coaches has shown changes.

“It’s definitely a different atmosphere from the past three years of my cross country experience, but it’s been really positive,” Hillring said. “It’s great but definitely different. It’s hard to change from a coach you’ve had for three years, it’s hard to not have Buehler coaching me, but it has been positive.”

Roxberg has been involved with cross country and track since she was in high school.  She attended Blue Valley Northwest, where she was an 11-time state champion for cross-country and track. After graduating, she went to the University of Missouri, where she became two-time Big 12 champion and competed on the national level. Roxberg also competed at the U.S. Championships alongside Olympic runners.

Though she has experiences running with top Olympians, Roxberg said she can also remember what running in EKL and other high school races was like, so she can relate to what the students are doing.

“I understand what they’re doing because it hasn’t been that long since I stepped on a starting line,” Roxberg said. “I understand what it’s like to have a good practice, a terrible practice, be injured, so I think being young and being so not far-removed from running, I can totally understand how they’re feeling.”

With her experience from being on different teams, Roxberg has been able to pick different aspects of each team which she found to work best for her and her teammates and apply them to her coaching.

Some of these aspects include new and longer warm ups. Senior Marina Berkley said the warm ups this year involve more practice before they get to the actual workout.

Berkley also said Roxberg gives the runners a lot of encouragement during practice and races.

“She’s very motivational,” Berkley said. “It’s a good characteristic of hers. You can tell she really wants us to do well.”

Roxberg said she likes to move around during workouts to check up on everyone because she enjoys seeing how the students improve every run. For her, the races are her favorite part because she can see every student’s work pay off.

“They’re a great group of kids,” Roxberg said. “Even if I’m making them work really hard, they’re still laughing and having a great time so that’s really fun for me. I watched them work hard all summer in practice, so I’m finally getting to see them race and enjoy all the hard work they’ve done. It’s really nice being able to get that reward, so I love watching.”

Along with Roxberg, the team has three assistant coaches. Last year’s head coach Gregg Buehler returned this year to assist, along with Aaron Webb and Richard Attig.

“They’re all awesome and motivating and they give great pointers,” Hillring said. “It’s a really great environment because the guidance of the coaches is really fantastic this year. I like that we have four and I’m really glad that Buehler came back to assist.”

With the cross country season still going and more races to come, the team continues to practice and improve.

“There’s definitely people on the team that are showing really good talent, and people that are putting all this hard work in,” Berkely said. “It’s really awesome to see that the team is doing well.”

– Hayley Berger

Co-Editor-in-Chief