Though he ran cross country throughout middle school, Co-Captain Aidan Lin ’23 initially decided to play soccer during his first year at Andover. However, after running frequently during his Lower Year, Lin decided to switch to cross country for his Upper Year. Swayed by his friends and positive team environment, Lin now heads into his second year on Andover Boys Cross Country.
“I guess my favorite part [of the sport] is, funnily enough, the team aspect. Obviously, it’s an individual sport, but on our team, it’s different… I don’t know if this is the case with other cross country teams, but it’s definitely [the] case for ours. I don’t know, it’s like a family,” Lin said.
Lin found part of that team aspect through the Cross Country team’s traditions. He felt as though the practice right before interschols brought a unique sense of community to the team dynamic.
“The highlight of my time as a Cross Country Runner was the last course run before Interschols. There’s a tradition of passing a stick around as we run through the sanctuary and only the person with the stick can talk. Everyone says a few words with the stick in hand. The camaraderie I felt in those moments was unlike anything I had experienced before,” said Lin.
According to Co-Captain Rohan Kapoor ’23, despite only running on the Andover team for two years, Lin has shown immense growth and talent in cross country. Since he began his Andover experience as a soccer player, Lin has grown into a model athlete for everyone on the cross country team.
Kapoor said, “He joined our team only last year, because he used to play soccer and he’s just hit it right off the bat…. He’s one of our top three runners, I think right now, which is just insane. [Plus, he’s] only been there for two years. And he’s an awesome leader too. He is someone who I look to, learn from, and someone who just has a personality. People want to be friends with him and want to be led by and appreciate who he is. He’s shown a lot of growth in running.”
As Co-Captain, Lin leads Boys Cross Country by emphasizing the core team values of being a family and respect, not just of one another, but of themselves. Given that the team has one of the largest rosters on campus, it is faced with difficulties of bonding together as one. However, in his new role as one of the leaders of the team, Lin hopes to unify it by implementing these values and using his outgoing nature.
Lin said, “I think that my biggest strength is being outgoing… [Since there are many kids on the team,] I’ve been trying to get to know everybody… As a big team, we had a bunch of runners come back for preseason. We had a couple of sessions just talking about what the values we wanted to cultivate on the team [were]… Family is one of them and respect is definitely one of them as well. Not just respecting each other, but also respecting your body and yourself. That’s a big part of cross country because it’s a really taxing sport.”
The team’s family bond, however, is not formed automatically. It takes fostering and togetherness, something Lin said has been built not just through team events, but through little things outside of Cross Country.
“We do do team dinners and occasional captain’s practices on Saturdays, but that’s not what necessarily makes us a family. I think it’s the bond we have with each other knowing that we’re in this together, whether it’s in a race, in a workout or school work. I remember last year a Senior helped me with my [Computer Science] work when I really needed help. He probably didn’t think it was a big deal, but it meant a lot to me. That’s the kind of team we are and I’m grateful that we have so many people on this team that embody this energy,” said Lin.
Boys Cross Country Head Coach Patrick Rielly emphasized Lin’s ability to connect with his teammates. With an outgoing nature, Rielly feels as though Lin works to ensure that he gets to know each and every one of the runners.
Coach Rielly said, “Aidan I think really connects with everyone on the team. I think he makes it a priority to connect with everyone on the team. And especially this season, to connect with all the newer runners on the team. I think that’s really important as a captain.”