Brendan Krupp joined us Sophomore year. It may have been because his family was friends with the Fayette family. Like Billy Fayette, Brendan originally thought himself a tennis player. I remember him that first year as being quiet, respectful, and slow. He and Ben Anderson finished at the back of most workouts and meets. Yet, as we always preach, it matters not where you start – and seeing Brendan improve these past two years, along with getting to know him better, has been a joy.
Brendan decided to talk to his teammates about ’embracing the process.’ He said, “it’s more than running. It’s about getting better. If you are here and you are dedicated, you will get better. You’ll form relationships with guys that go beyond friendship. It makes you more mature. I know I am a different person today than when I first joined this team.”
Austin Kleber joined our team freshman year, though he’d fallen in love with running and dedicated himself to the sport long before that. Austin’s journey has not been an easy one, as he’s had to overcome several injuries and illnesses along the way. A major highlight came last year, as Austin came on strong towards the seasons end and earned all-conference at the JV level. His performance at Proviso West that day also earned him a coveted spot among the top 12 runners who would make up the Varsity team for the state series. He came as an alternate and learned a lot – and strives to apply those lessons this season.
Austin began by inviting all his teammates to call him “Kleber.” His speech had three main themes. First, he asked his teammates to respect each other. He said “remember, everyone starts from the same point-crawling on the ground when we are babies.” He suggested using positive encouragement to motivate teammates. Secondly, Austin, directing his comments towards the east side of the room where the freshman gathered, offered as useful wisdom that it is important to “know your body.” He reminded his teammates of the importance of learning the difference between discomfort (which one should strive to run through) and pain (which needs to be immediately addressed). He mentioned the runners’ injury prevention ritual: stretching, rolling, sleep, ice. Finally, Austin told his teammates to have fun, as “that is why we are here.” He said that having fun and doing well go together. All in all, Austin’s speech reminded me of the “4-H club” idea we’ve emphasized in past years: for an athlete to do well, they must be Healthy, Humble, Hungry, and Happy. Only a veteran of the program would have been able to internalize and articulate those ideas to our newest members. I hope, like Austin, that we can all be part of that club.