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Issaquah Summer Practice

Let's go Eagles of Issaquah!

Issaquah High School is a suburban school east of Seattle. The team ran to a park and at the park it is a tradition for the team to spin the the life cycle of a salmon. Legend has it that if the salmon migrates successfully, then the Issaquah Eagles will have a successful season. After they spun the wheel, they ran back to school and participated in four different stations. They also played a few games. Issaquah is excited about the season and hope to capitalize on the boy's second place finish and the girl's fifth place finish at last year's Washington State Meet.

Spinning the salmon migration wheel and . . . Yes! Successful salmon migration and it is going to be a successful year for Issaquah!

From Liza Rickey, head coach and Mike Cobb, assistant coach.

How often do you meet in the summer?

Three mornings a week and one optional long run on Saturdays at different trails around in surrounding areas

What are some summer traditions? Camps?

The veteran runners teach new teammates the trails we run, the team cheers, and invites them to social events. We do ‘field trips’ and run at different parks and the team stays after practice to jump in lakes and socialize. We incorporate different games and team building activities each week as well. The team also organizes 4x400s teams at a local all comers track meet and then does ‘team dinner’ afterwards.

Many Issy runners attend White Pass Cross Country Camp. This year Coach Mike attended as well. This is a great time to kick off our training, bond as a team, and set some goals for the season.

How do you build the team culture?

Empowering leadership and student voice to shape the program and make improvements. We have a really large team, so we find ways to have small groups with squad leaders to connect with other athletes and support each other. We emphasize inclusion and celebrate all successes and progress.

What is the secret to Issaquah’s success?

Long standing history of being an inclusive and encouraging community, consistency, growth mindset and long-term goals and planning. We do weekly celebrations and shout outs of improvements and meeting goals. We celebrate all runners, not just the varsity performances.

Our goal is to instill lifelong passions and healthy habits to carry beyond the program. We are invested in the entire athlete not just the performance.

From some of Issaquah's Senior Leaders:

Kate Yahn:

1. I know we usually on the first day of summer training we do a pancake breakfast afterward to kick off summer training and welcome some of the new people and freshman.

2. We build our team culture by making sure we have a positive environment at practice where everyone feels supported. We also do fun activities like pasta dinners the night before a race, poker nights, and movie nights to help unify the team and bring us closer.

3. I think the secret to our success is that we are such a close knit team, and we care so much about each other. We are super supportive and encouraging of everyone, and we always push each other to do our best.

Ty Lauritzen

What are some summer traditions?

Summer training revolves mainly around running. In past years it has been a tradition for rising seniors to step up and lead unofficial practices to prepare for the season. This year coaches created an official “summer squad." Traditions within this training have transferred over including runs near swimming spots (Lake Sammamish and the Issaquah Creek), smoothies after long runs, and specific runs such as "Snatch" (salmon-hatchery) that includes the spinning of a wheel.


Many athletes choose to attend White Pass Cross Country Camp.

How do you build the team culture?

The team culture really just stems off a family environment. Whenever someone has an idea for something, they are always taken up on it which leads to even more traditions and bonds. Additionally, this family also looks out for each other both in and out of running.

What is the secret to Issaquah's success?

At the end of the day Issaquah is just another team that shows up on and does not have any secrets, at least that I know about. However, Issaquah has grown to be a quality program both due to the coaches and mindset of the athletes. Coaches are constantly working all the time to design very specific workouts which makes it very easy for athletes to just follow directions and get faster. The bond between Issaquah athletes also makes the “hard” running feel easier. Instead of dreading workouts athletes are calibrated so workouts are "just another run" which makes it easier to set higher goals. There is also a friendly competitive element between runners on the team which helps push not only the person right next to them but the people three groups back.

Ben Konopka:

1. Some summer traditions we have at Issaquah are going to Emerald City Smoothie after practices, lake days, and a poker night. 2. We build team culture by first having good team chemistry. It starts with that and then from there, we create a fun and open environment for everyone. This leads to the team creating events that are deemed team culture and are done over and over and hopefully passed down through classes. 3. There really is no secret to our success. We have great coaches and a great team. We all know that when we put in the effort, the positive results will follow. Stated in the previous question, our team chemistry is great and we use that to our advantage when it comes to pushing each other and making each other better. There are great teams out there, but I believe Issaquah has one of the best team chemistry.

Marcus Heu-Weller

Q: what are some summer traditions/camps?

A: White Pass Camp obviously, but in terms of traditions the midnight mile and pancake practice are both good ones.

Q: how do you build team culture?

A: It honestly is a matter of being nice to each other, having an inclusive team is important and making sure there's interaction from everyone with everyone, not just with people your speed. It also helps to have strong leaders/role models who pull the team together and understand the value of team culture.

Q: What is the secret to Issaquah's success?

A: There are a lot of factors, but I'd say the two most important ones are our team's strong chemistry and exceptional coaches. The chemistry bit boosts our morale and increases our motivation and effort in a positive feedback loop. However, our coaches are probably the most important factor when it comes to our success, they’re super involved, and work hard to draw out our full potential.

Thank you Issaquah for having us over and check out the photos HERE from the run to the park, spinning the salmon wheel and exercises and fun games at the field turf.

Special thanks to Adam Bumgardner for the excellent photos!

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