In his two seasons leading the team, Andover Boys Cross Country Head Coach Patrick Rielly has focused on carrying out traditions. These traditions include doing ‘poets and pushups’ and going to the Springbok Gazelle race at the end of the term, according to Rielly.
“There are many of them. A couple of my favourites is that, for the first run of the season, for pre-season, we always go up to Holt Hill and we get in a circle around the Sillister stones and do poets and pushups… Everyone names a poet and then we do a pushup for each one as kind of a nice way to start, and it merges that English teacher-cross country coach kind of thing… [Another tradition we have is] having the people who are not running [competitively] at New England’s intramural meet called the Springbok Gazelle race… I think [it is] a very fun event, great team event, we do that every year. So those are two that Coach Savelford established before my time, and we’ve carried it on through the years,” said Rielly.
Rielly emphasises that cross country is a sport in which progress is often invisible over a short period of time, but very visible long-term.
Rielly said, “[What] I say to the team all the time is that we want to control what we can control and we’re trying to get a little bit better, a little bit stronger every day. The thing about endurance running and distance running is that it’s an incremental improvement over a long period of time, which can be frustrating, but if you have patience and you commit to the training, you’re going to see significant gains over a season and over a year as you run. So, to me, trying to get a little bit stronger every day is my governing idea for cross country.”
Captain Matthew Ottenbreit ’22 appreciates Rielly’s coaching as well as his mentorship outside of cross country.
“Something I really appreciate about Coach Rielly’s approach is that he always prioritizes consistent, long-term improvement and believes that anyone can become a strong runner by improving a little bit every day. He also reminds us that having a balanced lifestyle outside of practice is essential to our success as runners and makes it clear that he cares about us not just as athletes but also as students and people,” wrote Ottenbreit in an email to The Phillipian.
Rielly believes his main role as head coach of the team is to provide ‘a place of success’ for runners in various forms.
“I care about them as people, as whole people. I think that’s the number one thing for me, it’s that cross country can be a place of success for everyone, and success looks different for everyone, depending on their experience [and] depending on their health in that season, but I think it can be a place of success for everyone, and to me, that’s the biggest role, and that’s why I hope to relate with the athletes as people first, just whole people who have rich, exciting lives outside of cross country. I hope cross country is a good part of their day,” said Rielly.
Tam Gavenas ’25 attributes the team’s strong bond to Rielly’s ability to foster a close knit team culture.
“He [helped me with the transition] more than I expected. He’s a great coach. I just enjoy his attitude because he’s like, ‘You’re here to run. You’ve got this, but you’re also here because the team is going to help you improve.’ It’s just a well-connected team. We all know each other well, and we always have a good attitude. I know I say this a lot, but attitude is really important,” said Gavenas.