The Team, the Team, the Team

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The power of a team is a beautiful thing. When seven girls come together and pour their heart and soul into 21 minutes of pure fight, striving for a goal bigger than any of them alone, the final outcome doesn’t matter; you’ve already won.

I could not be more proud of the Michigan women’s XC team this weekend for their second-place finish at the National Championships. Second place was better than we had even imagined, but finishing just one point shy of the victory was incredibly bittersweet. I mean seriously, one point?!

But what more can you ask for than your absolute best? We came focused, determined, and confident. Everyone expressed complete commitment to the team and a willingness to dig deeper than ever before this season. Experiencing this journey from a coach’s perspective has been a joy. I love seeing how the girls have handled adversity with calmness and success with perspective. Every time we screamed at them for more in a race, they responded. Every place was fought for, and nothing was given away.

More than anything, I just want the team to realize how much respect and admiration I and the other coaches have for what they just did. Girls, you represent everything that Michigan stands for. You upheld a legacy of constant success that Coach Mike McGuire has established in his 25+ years at Michigan, and you’ll walk away arguably the best team in that history. Your performance inspired everyone who saw it, and you can stand tall with no regrets because you gave your all.

It’s something special to witness the bond on a cross country team. Day in and day out, a team must mentally and physically break down barriers and come together as a cohesive, supportive unit to achieve success. Our team is filled with individuals with different strengths, from pure talent to grit to positive attitudes. Only seven of these girls competed this weekend, but all 37 girls on the team contributed to the success of second place. My heart is so full with joy from watching these girls encourage one another and run harder for the team than they would for themselves.

I wish so badly they could have walked away as National Champions, because to me they already are. I’m just thankful I got to cheer them on, and I hope that I can fight as hard as they did to go after my dreams.

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