but not alone

At Bethany, where smaller cross country teams sometimes equate into compiling incomplete team scores, the tendency can be to focus on individual times rather than team success. Yet, first year-coach Kassidy Love has instilled in Bethany runners that cross country is a team support—that others help them achieve their individual success. She says, “We don’t get far in life without someone pushing us, encouraging us, running along side us.”

click to view largerclick to view largerThis happens when teammates push each other in practice or competition physically, or encourage each other mentally. In fact many coaches adhere to the adage that running is 90% mental. To help focus on the mental aspect, Kassidy asked team members to dedicate the season to someone who can inspire them when they struggle to make it through a practice, a tough stretch of a race, or even life in general. She says, “There is always someone who has gone through a more difficult time who we can look to for inspiration. And when tough times come—in running or in life—we have to choose whether we are going to give up or rise above the moment and show what we can do with God’s power.”

That reality has been especially true for Katie Hurst this season. Soon after the season started, her grandmother—one of her sources of inspiration—was diagnosed with cancer. Katie says, “That hit me very hard.” Then several days later Katie suffered a stress fracture in her left foot during a race, ending her season. Katie says, “My grandma and I have always been close, but these challenges gave us something to work through together. And my teammates have been great supporting me and keeping me included even though I haven't been able to run with them.”

Ethan Miller with his five-year-old cousin Isaac, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer. Ethan says, “A five year old shouldn’t have cancer. When I get to a tough spot in a race, I think of him. That helps me go on.Ethan Miller with his five-year-old cousin Isaac, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer. Ethan says, “A five year old shouldn’t have cancer. When I get to a tough spot in a race, I think of him. That helps me go on.Some of Katie’s teammates also find their inspiration from people who have experienced serious health issues. Sophomore Catie Kauffman runs in memory of her father, who died from a brain aneurysm when she was in third grade. Junior Jesse Bontreger is inspired to “be the best I can be” by his father who was diagnosed with leukemia as a ninth grader, miraculously survived, and continued to play three sports as he regained his strength.

Midway through the season the team—and the entire Bethany community—learned that their math teacher, Renae Yoder, was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer and would miss the remainder of the semester. The team dedicated its lone home meet, Oct. 4, to her and to those who inspire them—their great cloud of witnesses—that surround them and inspire them to persevere the race that is marked for them. (Heb. 12:1).

RunnerWho inspires them?Why?
Jesse BontregerFatherDad was diagnosed with leukemia during his high school years at Bethany, miraculously survived, and continued to push through seasons of soccer, basketball, and baseball.
Jordan GlasgowMotherShe's been through a lot in her life and has overcome every obstacle.
Sadie Gustafson-ZookParentsMy mother ran in high school before she injured her hamstring and my dad still runs almost every day.
Ben HochstetlerUncle J.D.In the midst of adversity and pain he has always been able to find hope and peace within himself and allows God to take control.
Noah HochstetlergrandpaHe is hard working and kind.
Austin HooleyParentsThey encourage me and seem to be present even when they do not come to my meets.
Katie HurstGrandma BeccaWe've always been close and now she is battling cancer.
Catie KauffmanDad JamieMy dad died when I was in third grade. I always have him in mind when I participate in sports.
Ethan MillerCousin IsaacHe shows a lot of determination to get through his brain cancer.
Lena YeakeyFriends Abby and RoseAbby is always there when I need her and Rose, a cancer survivor, is like a second mother.