Boys Cross Country Fall Sports Sports

Captain Matthew Ottenbreit ’22 Strives To Lead Through ‘The Perspective of a Peer’

COURTESY OF PHILLIPS ACADEMY

Captain Matthew Ottenbreit ’22 is one of seven Seniors in a young team consisting of 56 runners

Andover Boys Cross Country Captain Matthew Ottenbreit ’22 began his cross country career in early middle school. Growing up, his dad proved to be a great inspiration for him because he was a runner himself. Although cross country was not Ottenbreit’s main sport before coming to Andover, joining the team has helped him grow his love for the sport.

According to Ottenbreit, his favorite aspect of the sport is the long-term growth that can be achieved.

“There are very concrete goals that you can set for yourself and achieve. That’s really important for a sport that you’re participating in for the long term. Coach Rielly really emphasizes improving a little bit every day, and I think that’s what it’s about, just consistency and faith in your training.” Ottenbreit said. 

According to teammates Bryan Chyu ’23 and Luke Williamson ’25, Ottenbreit is a supportive leader who supplies the team with enthusiasm every day. 

Chyu said, “He [has] kind of [always] acted as the leader of the team. This year, as he became the captain, I think his leadership, in a way, consolidated the group even more. His kindness and leadership make him a good leader.”

Williamson added, “He’s a lot of fun, he’s always there and he’s always excited. He always brings the energy and that’s always nice for everybody, especially if they’re having a bad day… He supports everybody, and gets to know everyone’s name and makes them feel like part of the community and that makes the community stronger.”

According to Ottenbreit, he strives to lead the team by example and is trying to reinstate past traditions that have not occurred due to Covid-19. Some of these include doing warmups before meets together and singing on the bus on the way back from races.

Ottenbreit said, “I like to think that I lead by example. I think that I have a very genuine passion for running even outside the competitive aspect. As a captain, something I’ve been really trying to do this year is, first off, because we didn’t really have a season last year, I’ve been trying to bring back all of the traditions we’ve had as a program in previous years and also I’ve been emphasizing that the team’s community should extend outside of practice. So we’re not just a community in practice, we’re also a community around campus when we see each other and we support each other in all aspects of life here.”

Ottenbreit is a true leader on the team and always keeps the team organized both during, and outside of practice, according to Chyu.

“In practices, he leads the warmup drills. We stretch out before we actually go on runs. He’s always the one to gather people and notify [us about] any information that we need to know before the race. Outside of practice, he likes to organize team dinners, especially before races,” said Chyu.

According to Ottenbreit, he was fueled by his teammates to come back even stronger than before after an injury last season.

Ottenbreit said, “One thing I’ll say is that one obstacle I’ve had is that, pretty much the same week I was elected captain, or around the same time I was elected, so the fall season of last year, I actually had a pretty serious injury with one of the growth plates on my hips. That resulted in me having to take three months off and pretty much no exercise. I think that was a difficult challenge because before that I had spent a lot of time building up my aerobic base and I felt that that injury sort of reset that. I think that the encouragement that I’ve had from my teammates and my coach and everything has really helped me come back.”