Persistent passion: Senior cross-country athlete leads by example

Winning isn’t everything. Many people believe they should only be involved in an activity or a hobby if they excel at it, but rewards come in many different forms. Senior Caleb Peterson proves each day that persistence and doing something because he loves it is key while running cross country. 

Caleb joined cross country when he was in seventh grade after running in the Johnson Joggers program, which is a program that allows students to run around the track in the mornings before school and keep track of how many laps they complete, at Johnson Elementary

 “Back in the day, everyone was slow and I was a year older than everyone else since I started school a year late,” Caleb said. “I was slightly faster because I was older. That was an advantage for me, but now it’s not really.” 

Caleb proves that with time and perseverance, anyone can be involved. Though he has difficulties, he still manages to improve and help other people. He isn’t the fastest, but he still strives to be better and compete against other people and himself.

“I’ve dropped a lot of time and improved both in my running and in my discipline,” Caleb said. “I work hard and get faster, but I’m just not naturally fast. It’s a bit of a struggle when you go out to practice and work hard but see people who naturally can run a 20 minute 5k while I’m behind them even though I’m out there every day working hard, running 5 to 10 miles.”

Caleb strives to be better than he was the day before. He leads the team with a good example of perseverance and persistence.

“He’s definitely a leader as a captain,” varsity cross country coach Darchell Welch said. “From a freshman to senior, I have watched him come out and get better every year and keep climbing that ladder. He’s stuck through it even in the hard times.”

 She’s not the only person to believe in Caleb’s work ethic. Athletes from his team and classes have said that he’s been working hard since he started. They have noticed that he is very welcoming to newcomers and makes it a point to make them feel like they are a part of the team.

“I’d describe Caleb as someone who works hard,” senior teammate Yanni Vasilakis said. “I think he just enjoys what he does even though he’s not the best at it. I think it’s impressive and admirable more than anything because he knows just as much as anybody that he’s not the fastest, but I honestly can’t remember a time when he’s skipped practice.”

Even when things aren’t going well, Caleb still stays positive and makes sure that everyone else’s attitudes stay positive too. Welch thinks Caleb’s demeanor comes in handy when times get rough and people are losing motivation.

“Caleb is our comic relief which is awesome because sometimes when things get intense, you can always count on him to bring a smile to everybody’s face,” Welch said. “He is a great leader. A lot of our younger kids look up to him, and he directs them in the right way.”

Caleb is not hesitant to help out his teammates with any problems they are facing, whether it’s involved with running or school. He wants everyone on the team to succeed, so he will do everything he can to attempt to help solve the problem.

“He’s a really good teammate and team player,” Yanni said. “He’s good at helping people out and giving people pointers. He’s also really good about making underclassmen feel welcome on the team because there are a lot of new underclassmen on the team.”

Along with being a teammate, Peterson is also dedicated to being a team manager. Even though running and managing require two different sets of skills, he enjoys being able to help the team in any way he can.

“Managing is a lot different from running,” Caleb said. “But it’s nice because I still feel included with the team. It’s nice to still be a part of the team and contribute in a valuable way and help my teammates while being able to see them succeed.”

Caleb hasn’t given up and continues to help and improve and doesn’t show any sign of stopping soon.

“I’m not very good at any other sports, and I want to do something, so this keeps me doing something,” Caleb said. “I’ve seen all of the progress I’ve made over the years, and I don’t want to go back to what I was before.”