When school starts, many people think of being “out with the old and in with the new”, but this year the Seattle Prep Girls’ Cross Country team is thinking more along the lines of bringing back the past. That’s right, former cross-country coach Ben Sauvage is back and better than ever!
In middle school, Sauvage was introduced to running competitively when he joined his friend’s dad on his daily runs and hasn’t let it go of it since . When he was a senior in college, he coached a track team as part of his student teaching requirements and shares how after that experience, he knew he wanted to coach. When offered two different coaching jobs, Sauvage ultimately chose Prep because he, “loves the culture and the kids.”
The senior girls on the team have come full circle as they began their Prep career’s with Sauvage as the boys’ coach and occasionally helped them on boy-girl practice days; they are eager to finish strong with Sauvage back at their sides as their full time coach. Sauvage’s first priority when coaching is “to get girls to really enjoy themselves, because sometimes I don’t think running is very fun.”
While the sport itself may not always be the most entertaining, Sauvage has done everything in his power to shift that mindset and make other aspects of it more enjoyable. Sauvage has managed to get a team of roughly fifty girls hooked on the sport and ready to compete, and it’s largely thanks to his motivating coaching style. Haley Burgess-Alm, a senior, shared how “Ben understands how to coach the top runner and the last runner to make them the best they can be. He always shows how much he believes in each runner, that really uplifts you when you are not so happy about your workout or race.”
All fifty girls on the team are unique in their races and speeds. Sauvage has managed to execute the hard task of making sure every girl is able to reach her fullest potential from the moment she leaves the start line to the moment she crosses the finish line. Burgess-Alm described how Sauvage has taught her the mental toughness to be able to get through the grueling Lower Woodland course. Sauvage shared with Burgess-Alm and her teammates that “anyone can do something for 30 seconds which turns into 3.1 miles, later you can still do it if you set your mind to it and I think this doesn’t just relate to XC but also in life.”
Sauvage understands that the sport of running is not always easy and just like any sport, not every race will be your best. He has managed to coach the girls to push to their best on that given race day. Freshmen Ellie Charles, explained how, “Ben never gives up on me and no matter if I have a bad race he’s always there to cheer me on and race hard until the end.”
Prep is looking forward to seeing how the cross-country team does in their competitive season and is hoping for many more successful years with Sauvage. He is happy to be back and ready to see the girls improve because after all, “all you need shoes and a pair of shorts” and leave the rest up to Ben!