I recently watched the Disney movie, McFarland, USA. It is about Coach Jim White who starts a high school cross country team in the 1980s in one of the poorest towns in America. He recruits a group of under privileged but hard working boys, pickers, so-called due to their twice daily hard labor in the agricultural fields, to join the cross country team. Through his inspirational counsel and dedicated love for these young men, Coach White leads these runners to the state championship. Many valuable lessons can be learned from this inspirational coach and team.
“Danny’s our anchor.”
Danny Diaz is one of three brothers that were on the McFarland cross country team. He was the number 7 runner and often felt like he wasn’t important to the success of the team. However, when the team needed him most, he ran a spectacular race, coming in as the number 5 runner and helping the team win the state championship.
I was not usually the top runner on my cross country team but I always knew that if I did my best, I was helping my team. My coach called me a pusher because I pushed members of other teams out of their positions, thereby helping my team. Every team member plays an important role and contributes to the team as a whole. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t always be number
“If you believe in yourselves and you believe in your teammates, it won’t matter what anyone else thinks.”
Because the McFarland cross country team consisted of young men who grew up working in the fields and had never having run competitively, they did not think they could compare to the other more experienced teams. Coach White did his best to eliminate this mindset in his runners. He knew that they worked harder than anybody else and they would never perform less than their best.
I attended a new high school and was on the cross country for its first four years. As a brand new team, we did not immediately win every race. We practiced hard and worked together for several years before qualifying for the state championships my junior year. Like McFarland, we were the underdogs who surprised many other teams by continually progressing every year.
“When you’re in pain out there, remember, so is the guy next to you and in front of you. It’s going to come down to who can handle the pain. Ask yourself, ‘Who’s tougher?’”
One of the most crucial parts of running is having mental endurance. That mental toughness will come when you realize that you are prepared for a race. Remember that compared to difficult practices, races should be easy! Remind yourself that you are ready - You know your pace, you’ve put in the miles, and it’ll be over much quicker than practice.
Because I run, I have learned how to view every member of a team as equally important. Because I run, I know the value of believing in yourself. Because I run, I have gained mental endurance that has helped me to achieve my goals and never give up. Because I run, I love the movie McFarland, USA!