Coach Feature Fall Sports Girls Cross Country

Girls Cross Country Coach Keri Lambert Enforces A “Team Mindset”

COURTESY OF KERI LAMBERT

At one point, Head Coach Keri
Lambert was the national champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

In her first season coaching, Girls Cross Country Head Coach Keri Lambert hopes to uphold teamwork and togetherness as the team’s core value this year. Reflected in her actions as coach, the emphasis on collaboration and a team mindset can be seen through more group focused running strategies.

 

Lambert said, “The values that I hope runners take from cross country is just that real team mindset that requires everyone to work on behalf of their teammates, and to support their teammates, and build one another up, day in and day out, in order to really kind of savor the hard work that goes into this sport and to make the most of the training.”

 

Lambert elaborated that her favorite aspect of cross country was the potential for team building. Rather than cross country being an individual sport, she stated that certain features of the sport encouraged unity and group effort. 

 

“I would say that one of the things that I love most about cross country is that it turns what could be considered an individual’s sport, mainly running, into a team sport, in so far how the meets are scored, and how workouts and training kind of take place. And I think that cross country really, in a really visceral way, kind of captures the nonsibi value actually, of the school,” Lambert said. 

 

Captain Natasha Muromcew ’22 highlighted the efforts that Lambert has undertaken to create team bonding experiences not just within the training regimen but also outside of the sport.  Muromcew also stated that these events helped teammates spend time with injured teammates who weren’t able to participate in training. 

 

Muromcew said, “Last Friday, she got us games and we had pumpkin carving contests. It was just really nice to be together as a team and a really low-stress situation where we could just hang out and not run, because a lot of our teammates are injured, so it’s hard for us to be together. So she’s very conscious of the team.”

 

Not only does Lambert focus on runners’ conditions while they run, she also focuses on building healthy habits and self-care practices after races. Post-running care is an emphasized aspect of cross-country training this season, according to Lambert.

 

“We’ve been focusing on self care and trying to develop better running habits:  better biomechanical form, better post run and post workout recovery habits, in order to be well rounded, strong runners, ideally to help prevent injuries but also just to learn about what it takes to be a strong, healthy runner, not just in terms of like the hard work that we do at practice, but also things like fueling and sleeping and hydrating and stretching and rolling after workouts and things like that,” Lambert noted.

 

Despite rough conditions, Lambert always pushes the team to adapt to different circumstances, encouraging moments of mindfulness. She helps the team to embrace any situation and to use those conditions to its advantage, according to Maya Tang ’23.

 

“We were practicing in rainy and muddy conditions and she encouraged the team to not see that as a bad thing and to just continue to push ourselves even when it’s hard. She’ll have a few minutes of mindfulness and to visualize our race and its entities. Some excerpts like mind exercises are helpful to get through the really tough parts of the course because she has us think of a mantra and to repeat it,” Tang said.

 

As the team heads into the end of the season and plans to host the elite championships, Lambert expressed her gratitude towards the team’s resilience and strength. She further stated that the runners’ work ethic and team spirit continued to inspire her. 

 

“What I take from watching them do those workouts and support one another and cheer one another on is really just like a strong sense of inspiration. And this is just a special group that really savor all of the challenges that come with cross country. They aren’t daunted by tough workouts or fast speeds. They’re not daunted by cold weather…  Just the way that they’re able to spin what other athletes or students might see as major challenges into wonderful experiences that they support one another through is really inspiring. It’s a great way to finish my day.”