Team Philosophy and Policies
Welcome to West Genesee Varsity Cross-Country. We are a no-cut sport that offers a unique sports opportunity to anyone willing to work hard and with purpose. All athletes who attend required practices and give the required efforts are welcome members of our team. Our primary expectation is that all athletes, despite their talent level, can—and will—achieve personal success and be important contributors to the team.
WG Cross-Country is a truly democratic sport that allows all participants, with commitment and effort, to achieve personal success while contributing to a team effort. We believe that most of the value of our sport lies beyond winning, and that the personal discipline, the physical and mental efforts, and the teamwork necessary to train and compete at one’s best are attitudes and behaviors that can be put to good use in the wider world, both now and in future years. Cross-Country done right, of course, is hard, so team members must expect and value daily hard work. And Cross-Country at its best is communal. The individual skills and talents of athletes achieve their greatest value when put to the service of teammates and the team.
Varsity Cross-Country is unlike many other scholastic sports. New York State provides only Modified and Varsity levels of the sport, therefore all 9th-12th grade athletes are members of the Varsity team. Selectively classified 7th/8th graders may also be members. Returning and veteran members of the team are expected to exemplify the best traditions of the sport by modeling hard work and perseverance in pursuit of personal and team mastery. The primary role of underclassmen on the team is to first learn how to train properly as middle-distance athletes. As they gain distance running skills and bring themselves to ‘race-readiness,’ they can make important competitive contributions to the team.
Our WG combined boys/girls teams typically number 35-55 athletes, and the range of talent and athletic experience on each team is often wider than in any other sport in the district. As a result of the high ratio of athletes to coaches, and the large geographic spaces of our workouts, we require a significant level of individual responsibility from the athletes. They need be where they are told and do what they are instructed. Athletes who repeatedly do not follow the directives of their coaches will be subject to team discipline policies. In coaching our athletes, we follow several primary procedures:
· Behavior/attitudinal issues with athletes will be handled privately before or following practices.
· Athlete training and roster decisions, as per school athletic guidelines, will not be discussed with parents except by a coach’s choice. Those decisions will be discussed with the athlete directly who may then, of course, discuss them with parents.
· Parents with concerns about any training or roster decisions for their athlete should contact the Athletic Director, who may then schedule a meeting with the coach, the parent and the athlete to address the concern.
· Important personal/family information that may affect the conduct, safety or daily efforts of athletes should certainly be shared directly with the coach.
Athlete Team Qualifications
Athletes voluntarily join Wildcats Cross-Country, where they are expected to attend all required practices, team meetings and designated meets. This is also a school athletic policy. Only verified absences due to illness, injury, doctor appointments, college visits and family emergencies are considered excused absences. For the health and proper performance of the athletes, they must maintain an overall 80% practice-attendance average to be eligible to compete in meets, with possible exemptions made by the coaches due to injury/illness. All absences must be verified by a parent note or e-mail to Coach Vermeulen. Any absence not verified in the prescribed manner is considered an Unexcused Absence. Multiple unexcused absences may lead to the loss of Varsity letter eligibility, the loss of meet privileges or, in some cases, suspension or dismissal from the team.
A house built on a weak foundation is at risk. Likewise, starting our season, runners unprepared with a proper base of fitness take risks. They risk failing to achieve their full potential as Wildcat XC members. They risk not making their best possible contributions to the team. And they are at a higher risk of injury while training--and especially with the high stresses of racing. Proper summer preparation, in most cases, is a bare minimum of 150 miles of mixed training mileage for boys and 100 miles for girls. Should a team member fail to complete that mileage, we will withhold them from racing until that necessary preparation, through team practices, is completed. Athletes keep track of their summer runs on our team Mileage Log. Any exceptions to our race-ready policy will be made by the coaches.
In addition, eligibility for Saturday invitational meets is determined by performance times. While we ensure that athletes participate in all league meets if attendance-eligible, to qualify for invitational meets, the athlete must demonstrate that he/she is capable of completing a 5k course in at least 32 minutes for girls and 30 minutes for boys. Any exceptions to this requirement will also be made by the coaches.
Levels of Achievement:
All team members, regardless of age/grade/ability, are eligible to earn a WG varsity letter in Cross-Country. To do so, they must meet the following standards:
1. Maintain a minimum 85% attendance average through the end of the full-team season(date of the SCAC Championship or final invitational meet for full team). Attendance is determined in this manner:
a. Athletes receive credit for a fully completed practice(a practice-attendance credit) or any meet for which they are scheduled. In some—but not all—circumstances, an athlete is given credit for completing half a practice as determined by time. Athletes are not given practice credits for days missed due to illness, injury, appointments, college visits, family vacations, activity conflicts or other forms of absences.
b. Athletes with season attendances below 80% will not qualify for a varsity letter.
c. Athletes with season attendances of 80-84% will be reviewed by the coaches, with possible attendance credit awarded for days missed due to illness, injury or appointments.
d. Any exceptions to these criteria due to unique circumstances will be determined by the coaches.
2. Complete summer mileage target.*
3. Demonstrate Improvement over the course of the full-team season.
a. Improvement is indicated either by improvement of their 5k competition times, their Speed Rating as determined by www.tullyrunners.com or by improvement of their place on the team depth chart, which is determined by average finish place in races.
b. Athletes competing beyond the dual-meet season may demonstrate improvement in those championship meets.
4. Compete in ALL meets for which the athlete is qualified and expected to race.
5. Finish in Team Top-10(finishing time) at least twice in meets or qualify for Sectionals.*
*Athletes not meeting criteria #2 or #5 will qualify with coaches’ approval of demonstrated effort,
attendance and improvement.
Any team member who does not meet the Varsity Letter qualifications but follows the WG Code of Conduct guidelines and team policies will be considered a JV-level Cross-Country athlete and a team member in good standing.
Types of Meets
There are three types of Boys/Girls Varsity Cross-Country meet competition, each with different athlete qualifications:
1. DUAL MEETS
2. INVITATIONAL MEETS
3. CHAMPIONSHIP MEETS
1. DUAL MEETS: These are two/three-team meets held during the week after school, usually on Wednesdays. They are raced either at our CMS home course or away, on the home team’s 5k course. Team members with a required 80% attendance and in ‘good standing’ according to team/school rules will participate in ALL dual meets. Any exceptions will be made by the coaches.
2. INVITATIONAL MEETS: These are Saturday meets of 5 or more schools. Top finishers usually receive ribbons, sometimes medals. The level of competition at invitational meets is higher than at dual meets. We will attend a designated number of invitationals this fall. Rosters will be determined by the coaches. All team members in good standing who can meet the 5k standard(32:00 for girls, 30:00 for boys)will eligible to compete in invitational meets.
3. CHAMPIONSHIP MEETS: These meets occur at the end of the season and are those for which athletes have trained to give their best seasonal performances. We participate in several championship meets. Eligibility for each is described below:
· League Championship – this championship meet includes the teams in our SCAC Metro Division who we have faced in dual meets. All team members in good standing who meet the 5k standard will compete in the League Championship.
· Sectional Championship – this is the Class A Section III championship. Teams are allowed a maximum of 10 runners. We will race our top-10 runners based on race performances, with an emphasis on the most recent. Those athletes must be in good standing and have the required attendance. The top team finisher in each class and the next 5 individual finishers in each class advance to the State Championship.
· State Championship – this is held in early/mid November at rotating sites throughout NYS. A team or individual state championship qualification is a significant accomplishment.
· NYS Federation Championship – through a selection process by Sectional Representatives at the State Championship, 17 public schools are selected regardless of class size to compete in this best-of-the-best championship in mid-November. Individuals also compete and are selected from state championship finishes. WG has advanced teams, individuals or both to this prestigious championship in 10 of the past 12 seasons the championship has been held.
The renowned American coach, Joe Vigil, said he had only three ‘expectations’ to guide the behavior of his Adams State University team members during their seasons. We do likewise.
Coaches will work with any athletes struggling to meet the three expectations.
With the support and cooperation of our district, Wildcats XC has, over the years, constructed one of the finest school-property training/racing sites in Central New York. Our training/racing trails at Camillus Middle School are superb, but our extensive topography also means we must trust the athletes to not only use them safely but properly, according to team guidelines. A word on walking: unless prescribed for recovery or as part of injury rehabilitation, walking does not contribute to the fitness of a runner or the effort standards of our teams. During practices, athletes always have the option to slow a pace if necessary, but except in cases of injury or illness they are not to walk.
For maximum runner improvement and protection from run-related injuries, it is important that athletes conduct training at paces commensurate with their ability and fitness levels. One way we ensure this is through the use of training groups. Based on conditioning, experience, and talent, we may divide teams into three training groups: Gold/Blue/Cats. Most times, all three groups do the same workout in varying volumes and/or intensities. We like athletes together. Sometimes, however, different groups complete different workouts based on their particular training needs. After initial evaluations, all athletes may be placed in a group. Movement between groups is always possible based on fitness improvements or increased effort levels by athletes. Rehabilitation from slight or moderate injuries/illness may also necessitate a change in training groups. Placement in a particular group has no effect on varsity-letter eligibility.
Length of Season
Our official team season starts on August 21st, though athletes will have been preparing with summer runs on their own as well as attending voluntary summer Team Runs. The final seasonal race involving all team members will be the 10/18 SCAC Championship. After that meet, 10 boys and 10 girls will be named to the Sectional Championship squad, the maximum allowed by the section. They will train for the 11/4 Sectional Championship at a site to be determined. Those not on the Sectional Squad will have completed their seasons on 10/18. Athletes not on the Sectional Championship squad may make requests, subject to the coaches’ approval, to continue training with the team until the sectional championship.
Athletes and parents have a variety of methods for obtaining team information. Those are as follows.
1. Team Web Site: the www.wgrunners.com web site provides team information, meet results, meet schedule and a team practice schedule, among other features.
2. Team Weekly E-mail: team members and parents are e-mailed each Sunday with information on the coming week’s practices, meets and other team information.
3. Facebook: Our West Genesee Cross-Country and Track Facebook page will post as many meet photographs as possible. You can join by liking that page.
4. Twitter: Team photographs and information can also be accessed on Jim Vermeulen@VermeulenJim
5. Post-Packet: at the annual post-season team banquet, athletes are presented a post-packet containing seasonal team/personal achievement data.
West Genesee Varsity Cross-Country Head Coach