Interesting perspective on why kid join XC and the thought process over 4 years. This letter was written by a senior for the end of the year booklet.

Cross country was the biggest mistake in my life. And it was also the greatest. Signing up for classes in 8th grade, I had already learned from the cool 9th graders that it was social suicide to be in P.E. I was tired of being the "Asian chick with buck teeth and ugly glasses," so I figured being in a sport would be a good way to break out of the vicious cycle I was stuck in. I stared for a long time at the yellow class sign-up sheet in front of me. So many choices...which path should I take? Fate decided for me on that warm spring afternoon. After ruling out ALL contact sports due to my extreme clumsiness, I was left with only two choices: golf or cross country. Being an indelicate person (read: bumbling idiot), I chose the latter. So it was by default that I checked the cross country box—it was the sport in which I would least likely injure myself.
I definitely showed up to my first summer practice wearing basketball shorts with a red cap, and only after Coach Green called me on my phone threatening to cut me immediately if I didn't show up. I was scared of running, but my fear of Coach Green (whom I had not met yet) trumped everything else.
Needless to say, I was not a breakout star runner in any way—that was another 9th graders job. I had, no, I have, absolutely NO natural running talent whatsoever. I have a hunched form and my body just isn't that of a runner's. I'm sure you would be able to find a slug that ran faster than me. I walked the better half of my first three-mile run, and it hurt so very much. I thought to myself: this is why I didn't do sports before now. Thankfully, I had another freshman, my best friend from middle school, to WOG (walk/jog) with. We spent our entire first season trying to beat each other. Because a 24:42 was so much faster than a 24:44, right?
I don't think I cared about trying to be good until the beginning of sophomore year. When I started running, I wasn't trying to make varsity, I was trying to make it out ALIVE. But I watched as my older friends struggled to make the cut, and I started to understand. There was something more out there, just waiting for all of us to reach out and grab it for ourselves. It didn't have to be making varsity or making other people proud—it was about me. If I could improve, I would be happy. And so it began. After an entire summer of actually going to practice, I PRed by four whole minutes at Woodbridge. Running changed for me then—I wasn't doing it so I could get into college, I was doing it because I wanted to.
After my sophomore season, I realized that I wanted to make varsity. I watched as the team went to Clovis, to CIF, to State. I wanted to go with them, and I admired the varsity team as the older, cooler people. I told my sister, then an eighth grader, that I wanted to make varsity next year. She snorted at me. "Good Luck with THAT." She was right, as usual. Everything's easier said than done. I didn't think it'd be so difficult. Junior year came and went, and I didn't make varsity. All that swarmed me were more and more up-and-coming newbies with a load of talent. Senior year, I finally made it. I got to go on the “Varsity” trip to Arizona.
So days turned into weeks into months into years. I have found myself thinking about mile splits during AP Physics, and I've definitely stalked multiple people on before. How is it possible that I could look forward to something I had dreaded so much four years ago? I don't know—there is no secret except to change your attitude towards the sport. And this doesn't just apply to cross country—it applies to life.
So next time you feel like giving up, remember that even Katherine can do it. Thank you coaches, for not giving up on me even in the dark ages, for listening to me when I needed you to, for caring so much about something no one else cares about. Thank you parents, for teaching me that it's okay to fail sometimes. I am the runner who did make it out alive, and I hope that all of you can be too. Thank you, and good luck.

Katherine Duan
Class of 2013