Kaleigh Inniss: Learning from my cross country experience

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Kaleigh Inniss and Coach John Deery celebrate at a cross country meet.

Kaleigh Inniss, Staff Writer

I didn’t believe it when people told me that high school flies by. Yet, here I am,  a quick four years later, and I can confirm it. Although my time here at high school has felt brief, there are a lot of things I have learned and a lifetime of memories that I have made. A lot of these come from being on the cross country team.

Cross country consumed my life every year from June to early November. Being a part of the team throughout high school has been an invaluable experience. I’ve learned so much about family, trust, and dedication. The team has given me a sense of belonging, which is something I greatly appreciated as the chaos of high school picked up.

I also got the privilege of being captain for cross country my junior and senior years. This experience taught me so much about not only leadership but also about being reliable and kind. Leading the team through practices and meets was an honor that brought me so much happiness. My teammates made me feel loved and seen.

Coach John Deery quickly became my mentor and someone I greatly admire. These past few years, I’ve spent countless hours talking with him about the team, ways to improve us, and just about life in general. He is a prime example of the type of leader and human I strive to be everyday.  I feel all the wiser having been an athlete under his coaching.

All in all, my participation with the cross country team has helped me survive the whirlwind that these past four years have been. I’m grateful for my teammates and coach for creating a safe and positive environment for me to grow up in and thrive.

As I set forward to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago, I know that the things I have learned from my days on the Belvidere girls’ cross country team has prepared me for a life of success.