Hearts And Minds

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The advent of Nike Cross Nationals NXN in , the showcase event in high school distance running, not only elevated cross-country to its rightful place in the running landscape but coincided with the emergence of Fayetteville-Manlius of upstate New York as the most dominant team in the sport. It was that season when Bill Aris became head coach of both boys and girls at Fayetteville and started experimenting with bold, new ideas on how to enhance high school runners.

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At NXN, held every December in Portland, Oregon, the F-M boys since would accrue the best aggregate podium-level team showing of any school, and the F-M girls would win 11 of the last 13 national team championships—most by huge margins. One year, , the F-M girls triumphed by an inconceivable margin of 59 seconds per girl in the 5k race.

Another year, , the F-M boys and girls swept the national titles—the boys by the largest victory margin to date, the girls with a record-setting second spread between scoring runners. By , high school cross-country had come far since Aris began started coaching as a Fayetteville-Manlius assistant in Increasing media exposure showed that some of the most formidable athletes in any sport were cross-country runners, and that year-around running along with weight training and other supportive exercises were required to compete with the best.

Cross-country was getting some overdue respect.

Why mess with it? Because, Aris said, it could be even better. After reading Percy Cerutty and other texts on group dynamics and sport psychology, Aris felt an opportunity to create a New Athlete transformed from good to great, from normal to extraordinary, who would become the template, at Fayetteville-Manlius, for a re-definition of the runner.


The teenage runner, with enhanced physical, emotional and spiritual powers, would now stand as the model athlete, the athlete supreme. That was his goal. He would write nothing down, have no preconceived notions, no schedule, no system, as it were, only his instincts to tell him, as he sized up the boys and girls, what would stimulate their hearts and minds and muscles on that day, at that moment. Molly Malone, who competed on four NXN championship teams, from through , and was a national caliber track runner as well, recalled how she experienced it:.

Whether purposeful or not, Aris took on the aura of a prophet.

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In his speech and carriage and body language, he could convey an idea that, among the F-M runners, would acquire a Talmudic caress. Let it be spoken, let it be done. However, we have also witnessed first-hand how, often, these people begin to change their views when they talk to those who have had closer contact with the issues.


By sharing an understanding of the sort of people who need our help, and the hideous circumstances they are escaping our communication will seek to show people how their actions can bring about the common good. Through fundraising, events and media contact the CRRN will look for ways to change hearts and minds so that Cornwall retains her identity as a place of welcome, refuge and sanctuary.

A chat works better than a lecture. Practical Support campaigning hearts and minds.

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