Dave Devine details the joy-filled expectation observed by Sean Brosnan, coach for the best boys high school cross country team ever, Newbury Park, even before their historic 2021 season began:
It’s hard to say what was different that afternoon. Difficult to discern how that July day was distinct from any of the others that [they’d] spent along the edge of southern California’s Big Bear Lake. Was it the angle of the sun off the shimmering water? Did the light suddenly catch them differently? Was it the impressive sight of bodies in flight? Teenagers untethered, one by one, from the rocks where they were jumping?...Was it the mixture of laughter and splashing? The easy way they joked and cajoled and encouraged each other?
There was no running. No timed intervals. No established benchmarks. None of the expected ways that Brosnan would typically measure his team’s progress.
Watching the leaping, absorbing the laughter, he clearly recalls the feeling he had then, a sudden surge of confidence. “I remember specifically sitting there,” he says, “and they’re not even running, they’re just jumping off rocks and hanging out, and I’m going, ‘Okay, this is going to be an insane team. Not only can they run, but they’re all best friends.’”
His belief came, not from numbers on a watch or times on a track, but from the way his team interacted. How they connected. How they trusted each other.
Brosnan sat at the edge of that lake, watching his team recline on sun-warmed granite, and realized that all the preseason projections based on times and returning runners, all the expectations that the 2021 Newbury Park boys would be a truly historic cross country squad, might actually come to fruition.
“This really is going to be the best team ever,” he thought. “Like, EVER.”
[NOTE: Last Saturday (12/4), the dream came true as the Newbury Park boys won the Nike Cross National Championship – the best and most storied team in the sport’s history.]