first_imgby Joey PaganoBill Aris would run out of fingers if he tried to count the number of championship teams he has coached at Fayetteville-Manlius. For both the boys and girls cross country teams, he’s created an environment where winning is the expectation, and now there will be a book about it.In “Amazing Racers,” to be released on Aug. 6, author Mark Bloom digs into the success the program has experienced and uncovers how Aris taught his teams to create their own luck through a devotion to what they love. Bloom said Aris challenges his athletes to strive to be more mature than their peers. Aris convinces the runners to live, train and think at high levels and have a sense of community and team values, Bloom said, and that pushes the young runners to exceed expectations.“Going into a race, we always had the mindset that we were going to run as hard as we could for each other, no matter what,” said Reilly Madsen, who ran under Aris for five years. “When the pain sets in, you always keep pushing for the six other girls, because they are doing the very same for you.”In order to thrive, Aris said, the athletes must buy into the program, which is based on Percy Cerutty’s ‘Stotan’ philosophy. He said Cerutty, an Australian coach in the 1950s and 60s, provided him with a foundation for a coaching style with his emphasis on a well-balanced approach. Tags: cross countryF-Mcenter_img “I basically adapted his approach to the high school level, not adhering to it to the level of the Olympic athletes he coached but infusing aspects of it to the aspiring high school runner and teams,” he said. “His approach, and mine, involved the development of the whole person — mind, body and spirit.”Bloom said that same approach is what convinced him that this program was worthy of writing a book about. He said as a runner himself, he could relate to the culture Aris has created at F-M and continues to apply the ‘Stotan’ mindset to his life.While he didn’t begin writing “Amazing Racers” until a few years ago, Bloom said he has been observing the F-M cross country program for nearly two decades.“As I observed the F-M athletes, and coach Aris, from their emergence onto the national scene in 2004,” he said, “I was convinced their unique approach to excellence provided a wonderful opportunity for a journalistic inquiry.”Aris said challenging high school athletes has an element today that it didn’t have when he started, simply because society has become selfish and individualized. With social media, it’s easier for teenagers to only think about themselves, but he tries to teach his athletes to strive for humility and selflessness, he said.“Self-promotion is something I have always avoided, letting the results speak for themselves and then moving on to the next challenge,” Aris said. “By focusing on team first, each kid is able to devote themselves to something greater than themselves – all of their team, that is, and in doing so, the kids become better runners individually while making their teams improve.”Sophie Ryan, who like Madsen started with the F-M varsity in eighth grade and is now continuing her cross country career at the University of Utah, agreed, saying that Aris created an unselfish environment by emphasizing that everybody on the team shared one goal: winning.The now-64-year-old coach tells his players that they aren’t “world beaters” themselves and make the impossible, possible when they unite as one, Ryan said.Alluding to the culture, Madsen said Aris taught her and her teammates to seize opportunities. It was about being humble and appreciating each opportunity as individuals, while also taking advantage of the chances to compete with – and for – their  teammates.“The F-M team success is unique in all of running and sports itself,” Bloom said. “In my 50-plus years as a journalist in the running field, I’ve never encountered anything like it. Hopefully “Amazing Racers” does (them) justice.”Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditComment on this Story last_img

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