A Fresh Approach to Girls Cross Country

Published in the August 27, 2008 issue of The Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster


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Now is the time of year when most fall sports coaches are battling to help their athletes undo a summer's worth of deconditioning. But Dan Glover, first year head coach of the Nashoba Regional girls' cross country team, is taking it a step further.

Glover's practices aren't just about running. They're about plyometrics, resistance-band training, and breaking up the monotony of long runs with abrupt changes in direction or short breaks for sit-ups and other drills.

“My goal is to get the girls in the best shape of their lives and enjoy doing it,” Glover said. “And I think one way to do that is to keep things fresh.”

Resistance band work will focus not just on the legs but on the upper body as well, in keeping with the increasingly popular theory that upper body strength helps athletes run efficiently by maintaining proper form. Lower-body resistance training and plyometrics should give the Chieftain runners the extra power they need to negotiate hills, in particular the one that looms near the end of the Nashoba home course.

“Having that power will give them the ability to work up a hill and continue on,” Glover said. “It also I think will help them feel more confident mentally as well as physically.”

Glover, a guidance counselor at Nashoba, takes over the head coaching position from Kevin LaCoste, whose new job as assistant principal at Florence Sawyer Middle School in Bolton will limit his availability. But the rookie head coach isn't exactly lacking in experience. Growing up in Stow, Glover competed on the Nashoba cross country and track teams, and also ran cross cross country for St. Michael's College in Vermont. More recently, he assisted LaCoste with the 2007 girls' cross country team that finished fifth at the Central Mass Division 1 championships, and had a successful head-coaching debut this past spring with the girls' track team that won the Class B district championship.

“Dan did a nice job with the girls' track team last year,” said Nashoba athletic director Tom O'Brien. “And his particular specialty is distance, so this is a really good fit for him.”

Returnees from last year's cross country team will be led by senior Molly Porcher of Stow, who was named an all-star by the Worcester Telegram following a seventh-place finish at the Central meet and a 31st-place finish at the state championships. With former captain Lindsey Horowitz of Stow now a freshman at Bowdoin College, Glover will be looking to see which runners emerge from the pack to challenge Porcher in practice and in competition.

“Molly's probably going to miss Lindsey more than anyone else, because they did a great job of pushing each other back and forth,” he said. “But honestly I think we've got a couple of girls who might step up in the next few weeks and run with Molly.”

One thing's for sure: Glover's troops can forget about the loneliness of the long-distance runner. The coach called this season's turnout “mind-boggling,” and expects to end up with as many as 40 girls on the team. The down side is that only seven can compete in each varsity event, leaving Glover with the challenge of keeping the rest of the team motivated, particularly the freshmen with as-yet untapped potential.

Although team captains have yet to be selected, Glover expects Porcher and fellow Stow senior Laura Nisotel to be among those serving as role models for the younger runners. This year's wild card could well be another Stow senior, Trisha Starkey, a soccer standout who will be giving cross-country a try this fall following an injury that will keep her off the soccer field.

The Chieftains' first head-to-head matchup will be Sept. 4 at Oakmont. The first home event will be Sept. 16 against Marlboro.

For now, it's about getting in shape and getting to know each other. And Glover, for his part, is enjoying every minute.

“As corny as it might sound, I am really just thrilled to be the coach,” he said. “I'm looking forward to really setting the tone for the girls to work hard and also have a lot of fun.”

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239