We met up with the Central Catholic girl's team at a workout on the Duniway Track in downtown Portland. The track was busy with other training groups which added to the excitement to Central Catholic's track workout. In fact one of the community members on the track, Julia Markley came up and spoke to the girls. She is a Central Catholic Cross Country alum, Stanford athlete and graduate and attorney. We spoke with Central Catholic Coach Robyn McGillis about the cross country program and about a project that she has started with fellow coach Marie Davis Markham called Wildwood Running.
How often does Central Catholic in the summer?
We practice four days a week. We go Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and a Sunday long run. We never meet at Central Catholic in the summer. We go to Duniway, Washington Park, Tryon Creek and Leif Erikson religiously for our Sunday long run. We try to get on the trails as much as we can.
Did Central Catholic go to a camp this summer?
We did. We went to Suttle Lake which we have been to before. Prior to Covid we have been there. We were there for three days. We ran from Suttle Lake to Camp Sherman. We went into Bend for a work out. It was fun to get a way. We did a camp last year, but we camped which was fun, but it was nice this year to be in cabins.
What is the secret to Central Catholic girl's success?
I think team culture and community. This is my tenth year here and my prior experience was in HR. I worked with managers and employees to help them build team culture and leadership development. I worked really hard to put structures in place so they are managing their team. The leadership is picked and they run a lot of the summer practices. We have a captain's week where they put on everything that week. We try to empower them as much as possible. I think things could run well without me here which is what I want.
How did Central Catholic build the team culture?
Bit by bit. Taking things from other coaches that I knew of or was friends with. I got to work with Coach Frank at Central Catholic on the boy's side so I have learned a lot from how he built his boy's culture. I didn't take everything from Coach Frank because I still wanted it to be our thing. I met with Charlotte Richardson who has been a mentor and a big supporter of mine. You did the beads. We still do that. I soaked in as much knowledge and tried things. Some things stuck, some things didn't and some things evolved as the team grows and changes. I tried to learn as much as possible.
Can you explain Wildwood Running?
Marie Markham Davis who coaches at Lincoln High School, her and I started it two and a half years ago now which is kind of wild. We both grew up in the sport and loving the sport and having a great support system. We went to a lot of coaching conferences and we saw an absence of topics that focused on helping girls navigate this time of their lives as far as puberty, menstrual health and bringing those thing into conversation. Normalizing those topics. We talked to other coaches and we came up with this idea of putting on clinics on things we want to learn more on how to better support our girls. We want to keep more girls and build confidence. We normalize these topics.
We put on a coaches clinic during Covid two and half years ago. It was successful and part of the success was because of Covid. Coaches were at home and also the topics. We tapped into a need and we opened it to girls. We do coaching and athlete education, I would say, through camps and clinics. Some topics are typical to the female gender, but some are really good for any kid involved in the sport as far as building confidence, athletic identity and those sorts of things.
Check out the photos of Central Catholic girl's workout HERE
To learn more about Wildwood Running, click HERE