There aren't many high schools teams with the following mantra: the coaches will lead the team, and the team will coach the coaches.
But the Mitchell Christian cross country team is finding that can lead to success.
The team has a pair of first-time co-head coaches in Jill Nydam and Julie Holdeman, leading their boys team into the postseason, which begins Wednesday, Oct. 13 at Valley View Golf Course in Freeman for the Region 3B meet.
Throughout the year, both coaches have taken the approach that they will coach the team and the team will also coach them.
Both Nydam and Holdeman admitted ahead of the season that they might not know everything about cross country, but they do have the ability to learn and lead this group to a successful season.
“It’s really been a learning curve,” Nydam said. “Sometimes we’re asking ourselves, 'Are we working them hard enough? Are we working them too hard? Do we need to up the practice?' But the older guys have been really good about letting us know what they can and cannot handle. I think we’ve found our groove.”
The two have split up some of the responsibilities as coaches. Nydam is the hands-on coach, interacting with runners every day and always in communication with the team, while Holdeman keeps track of the players’ times, registers the team for meets and makes any announcements that the team may need to hear.
Holdeman said there has been a challenge for some of the runners to adapt to this change of going from the same coach for most of their high school career, to two separate coaches that have no history coaching the sport.
“They’ve had to learn to adapt to things being different,” Holdeman said. “They’ve had to help us along as we learn and in doing that, they have had to learn how to push themselves and show us what they’re capable of.”
Nahum Anderberg said having two head coaches has been great for the mental aspect of the sport and they’ve made sure all runners prepare their bodies for each race. Anderberg said this season has been different from years past, but he wouldn’t change a thing.
“The coaching styles are different,” Anderberg said. “I feel like our last coach had more knowledge of the sport, but our coaches are doing a great job for being in their first year. I wouldn’t want this season going any other way. It helps that they are both supportive of us, always cheering us on, never doubting us and holding me accountable.”
As the Golden Eagles approach the Region 3B cross country meet, they look to achieve the same goal they set out prior to the start of the season and that’s get the entire team to state.
The Golden Eagles have had one female runner in Hannah DeLine, who is an eighth grader that elected to run varsity next season, meaning Mitchell Christian will not have any girl runners in the regional or state meet.
As for the boys, they’ve won one meet as a team this season and have placed in the top-10 five times.
“We definitely have a legit possibility of all making it to state,” Holdeman said. “Just based on how the boys have been running, we have three of our boys in the top-20 in the region. If they all run their best race, we very legitimately can make it to state.”
Anderberg and Liam Pospisil, who each raced at the state meet last season, are on pace for another berth this year. This year, they are led by top runner and seventh grader Silas Holdeman. Holdeman has finished in the top-15 in six meets, three in the top-7.