There’s no ‘I’ in team: Cross country member impacts team unity

After crossing the finish line to earn first place at the Nacogdoches meet, freshman cross country member Samantha Hernandez ran half the race again. JV member sophomore Brooke Weaver suffered from a hip injury and was struggling to finish the race. Samantha went back and finished the race again, stride-by-stride, with Weaver.

During the District meet, Weaver was again struggling with her hip. This time she was joined not only by Samantha, but by the entire team. Samantha’s selflessness pushed Weaver to finish with her best time of the season, but she had an even greater impact on the team as a whole, with each member finishing with their fastest time.

“Her leadership skills are the biggest contributions she [gives],” cross country coach Jeanette Muncie said. “She helps make the team more of a team. She also likes interacting with her teammates. She’s always trying to bring them together, and is very positive and supportive. Samantha never likes to see another teammate struggle, so she’s always putting herself aside to help other teammates.”

Samantha’s consideration for her teammate demonstrated to the rest of the team that every individual member should not work independently, but rather work with each other and never leave anyone behind.

“I think it shows great character and leadership [that she went to help Brooke].” Samantha’s father Ray Hernandez said. “Cross country is considered an individual sport, and I think Samantha showed everyone that it’s a team sport. We didn’t even know about her [going back to run with Brooke the first time] until Mr. Smith told me about it.”

Weaver sees that what Samantha did wasn’t to make a name for herself, but more because she genuinely cares for the team and recovery isn’t a time to sit around, but rather to get back up and get better sooner.

“I felt good [when she came to run with me], like someone cared and thought about me,” Weaver said. “Since I’ve known her, she’s never bragged and she’s always been there to push all of us to be better.”

As a freshman on varsity, Samantha has accomplished an impressive amount of goals and that makes the coach excited for the seasons to come.

“She’s done amazing things as a freshman, like being 40 seconds away from qualifying for regionals,” Muncie said. “Knowing that she’s competing on the same level as kids that are ranked in the state let’s us know that there’s plenty of good stuff to come.”

Samantha’s work spreads to make improvements in everyones performance, and she does it to see the team progress.

“Getting better and helping everyone else get better is the most encouraging thing.” Samantha said. “When people are struggling and I can be there to help them out, I’m proud [to be the one that] helped them to get better.”

Samantha’s stamina and ability to keep pushing on is the fuel for the rest of the team. She fights to get better and doesn’t let failure catch up to her.

“She doesn’t like to lose, she doesn’t like to fail, and it’s evident in everything that she does,” Muncie said. “If she’s working that hard, we’re going to push ourselves harder.”

Samantha’s humility has proven her honesty to the sport and team and her consideration is a pulling force for the team to keep working.

“When I asked Samantha why she didn’t tell us [about helping Brooke], she said she didn’t think she had done anything special,” Mr. Hernandez said. “I think that shows what kind of person she is.”