Boys Cross Country Head Coach Patrick Rielly Aims to Cultivate an Exciting, Inclusive, and Respectful Team

Head Coach of Andover Boys Cross Country Patrick Reilly initially began his coaching career at Andover as an assistant coach after distance running competitively throughout high school and college. Since then, he has taken on the role of Head Coach and has worked each season towards creating a space where everyone is “excited to get the most out of themselves.” 

According to Rielly, the camaraderie found in a cross country team is what drives his love for the sport. He values the fact that everyone on the team is working together to achieve the same exact goal.

“The thing that I love about the sport is that you get together [as] a large group of people who all have the same goal to get faster over the 5k. And regardless of experience coming into the season, or training beforehand, the goal is the same, as we’re trying to get a little bit stronger, a little bit faster, every day. That, to me, keeps me coming back every year,” said Rielly. 

This year’s team includes 60 runners, many of whom are new to the team and sport. For Rielly, team success is not just measured by performance in workouts and races, but also, whether or not everyone on the team feels included and excited at practices. 

“A successful team, of course, has to do with training, but I think even more importantly, it has to do with the people who are involved with it. My goal as a coach in the program is to really cultivate an atmosphere and a space in which people feel really excited to be there and excited to get the most out of themselves and help their teammates get the most out of themselves as well,” said Rielly.

New to the team, Mario Calvo ’24 appreciates Rielly’s consistent communication and care for every runner on the team. According to Calvo, Rielly ensures each person is taking the steps necessary to take care of themselves, since distance running is both physically and emotionally demanding. 

“He’ll always ask me how I think I did during the workout, how I feel directly after a workout, and how I’m going to approach recovery. And I’m also very appreciative of that because in both harder days and easy days, I can be someone who’s always pushing themselves to the limit, and Coach Rielly always helps to put a check on that competitiveness and makes sure I’m always trying to aim for the end goal, which is to be both a good teammate and a good runner,” said Calvo. 

Co-Captain Aidan Lin ’23 shares similar sentiment to Calvo, valuing the fact that Rielly is approachable and prioritizes the athlete’s health over their performance. According to Lin, Rielly is understanding of any factors that may affect one’s ability to run, in and outside of practice. 

“Coach Rielly is obviously a great coach, but also a really great person on campus. He doesn’t just care about our performance and our improvement, he really does care about our well-being. I know last year sometimes when I didn’t get enough sleep, he just told me to go back to my dorm and take a nap rather than [go to] practice. It really showed me that he cared for me as a person first, and me as an athlete second,” said Lin. 

According to Rielly, the fundamental value for his team is respect. However, Rielly also believes that respect is more than just treating teammates with kindness. 

“We have to respect each other and everything we do. I think that that sort of leads to all the other values. Thinking about compassion for one’s teammates, thinking about integrity as an athlete, and I’d say perseverance as an athlete as well,” said Rielly.

In between big races, Rielly continues traditions like “push-ups and poets”—where the team completes push-ups while naming poets on top of Holt Hill—and the annual intrasquad Springbok Gazelle Race. However, with a team so big, Rielly realizes that it may be a challenge for everyone to have equal opportunities to race. 

Rielly said, “The major goal I have for that for the season is that everyone on the team gets a chance to wear the blue and race this season. Get on the line and run hard over 5k hopefully multiple times. But if we can get everyone in the program to race this season, that would be a really great thing.”