Men’s XC talks leadership, motivation going into season

Epke Paquette, Sports Manager

What does it take to lead a college cross country team? According to RWU men’s cross country captains, senior Chris Chipchak and juniors Connor Hayden and Tyler Marchioni, the key is attitude. 

After taking first place at the Emmanuel Invitational on Aug. 30, the captains are confident the team will be successful in upcoming meets this season. 

“I think we have a strong team this year,” said Hayden. “We have a lot of good freshmen coming in and a lot of good returners.” 

“I think our strength is in our depth, for sure,” added Marchioni. “Guys ranging from one to 10 are all close to each other. We’ve got a really solid team.” 

Both Chipchak and Hayden, second-year captains, said being a captain is harder than they would have imagined. 

“It’s definitely challenging. I’m sure Connor could tell you the same thing,” said Chipchak. “You kind of just find your way and figure out what the best way to lead is. For the most part, really the big thing is holding yourself accountable. Everyone’s looking at you, so what you’re doing and the mindset that you have is directly reflected onto the team.”

“I don’t know if this should go on the record, but he’s kind of the ‘bad cop,’” Hayden laughed in response to Chipchak, before confirming that his comment could go on the record. “It’s definitely challenging at times, but we have a good team and we’re all really close.”

Marchioni, the only first-year captain, spoke to the importance of recognition within the team. 

“There’s lots of leaders on this team whether we have the captain title or not,” said Marchioni. “I feel like there’s a lot of guys that do a good job of representing this team, and just because they don’t have the captain title doesn’t mean that they don’t do a lot.” 

So how do these captains play a role in motivating their teammates? 

“It just starts at the basic level of showing up to practice with a positive attitude,” said Chipchak. “They look up to you, and if you come in with a negative mindset or if you’re having a bad day, they pick up on that and they’re going to reflect that same attitude.”

Hayden had a similar outlook on the subject. 

“The goal is for practice to be the thing they’re looking forward to every day,” said Hayden. “They will be motivated if at the end of classes they know they’re going to the best part of their day, which is going for that 5 p.m. run.”

The team’s next meet will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21 at UMass Dartmouth. Marchioni is excited about the team’s next debut of their training. 

“If you lead by example, people will follow,” said Marchioni. “The harder you work, the harder people around you work.”