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Valley Journals

Fun to run: Cross country at Copperview Rec Center

Oct 31, 2016 11:46AM ● By Sarah Almond

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By Sarah Almond | almondsh@gmail.com



Midvale, Utah - Since 1979, the Copperview Recreation Center has provided various fitness activities, sports programs, and athletic spaces to residents throughout the Midvale area; the youth cross country program has been a staple ever since. 

“The season went really good,” Cross Country Coach Marissa Burton said. “They all actually improved from their first week and did so much better throughout the season.” 

Burton coached Copperview’s track program last spring, but this was her first time coaching the cross country team. Along with warm-up runs and mile-long jogs, Burton made sure to implement plenty of fun, high-energy games during practices in order to keep the kids interested and passionate about running. 

“At every practice we would try to play games and things like that just to keep it fun for them,” Burton said.  “Especially since they are just kids and this is meant to be fun.” 

Along with a new coach, the team’s also experienced a significant change in participation: the roster size nearly tripled since last season. Whereas just eight participants signed up for the team in 2015, this year’s team had roughly 23 elementary school-aged runners. 

“Truth be told, practice can be kind of crazy,” Burton said. “I mean with 23 kids versus one adult, things can sometimes get a little crazy. But we have rules enforced and if they don’t follow those rules then they have to do 10 jumping jacks or run a lap or something like that.” 

Burton says that including guidelines and rules has helped to establish responsibility, accountability and respect throughout the team. 

“They were all really great kids,” Burton said. “They were all willing to participate and get involved in the activities that we did and I think that, overall, they really enjoyed running.” 

The Copperview cross country team met for an hour every Monday and Wednesday to learn and practice the fundamentals of running. Designed to improve technique and skill, the annual cross country program also focuses on building endurance for future cross country success.

“I try to mix activities up, so we kind of did different things at every practice,” Burton said. “We did a lot of adventure runs around the park to practice endurance, and ‘Sharks and Minnows’ to work on speed. We would do relay races with boys against girls and of course they all loved that.”

An experienced runner herself, Burton always joined her team for the mile-long warm-up run at the beginning of every practice. Running alongside her athletes gave Burton a better opportunity to implement two key things she finds valuable when introducing children to cross country: encouragement and perseverance. 

“I just want them to know that it [running] is a lot of fun,” Burton said. “I mean it is what you make it. It’s very hard and it does get challenging, especially as you get older, but it is very rewarding. I hope that they continue to run after this just because they saw how fun it could be and that it got them active and moving.” 

Burton said that along with teaching children the importance of working hard, cross country is also a great way to keep kids in shape for other seasonal sports like basketball or soccer. 

“I just think there is something about running that is so mental. It’s very physical because you have to be physically trained, but it’s also so mental and helps build brain strength,” Burton said. “I would love to see all of these kids and their friends return next year.”

For more information about the cross country program and others at Copperview Rec Center, visit slco.org/recreation/copperview or call 385-468-1515