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Royal Summer Practice

Next in our series of west coast high school cross country summer practices, we visited Royal High School's practice. Royal High School is located in Simi Valley, CA which is northeast of Los Angeles and part of the great cross country programs that come from Ventura County. Royal has a long tradition of excellent cross country teams that stretch back to the early 1970's. We met the Highlanders of Royal at Coyote Hills Park on a foggy morning. The athletes went on a run that started on the street and ended up on the trails near the park. We talked to Coach Ryan Luce and Peter Mogg about Royal's XC program.

Do you have summer camp or special summer activities?

Coach Mogg: We have our Mammoth camp coming up pretty soon and then today we are doing a pool workout after practice at my backyard.

Coach Luce: Yeah, Mammoth is probably our big go to during the summer.

Coach Mogg: We practice five days a week and they are on their own on Saturdays.

Coach Luce: We have been doing the Mammoth camp for, I believe it is our 22nd year and it is more about team building and team bonding more than anything. We do run twice a day in Mammoth. We do a pool workout, slash run on other days. It is more about just getting together and going on hikes. We usually go to the Mammoth climbing wall and that is always fun. We go out to eat, of course, at the Stove. We have a game we traditionally play Go Home which was created by one of the parents and kids get into a big tournament and that is something we play all the time. It is all a good all around week of fun activities.

How do you build the team culture at Royal High School?

Coach Luce: It is different every year with the type of clientele with the kids that we have. The takeaway is that we get them to fall in love with running. I know Coach Mogg brings in lots of historical perspective which helps the kids fuel their fire.

Coach Mogg: We share a lot sayings . . inspirational sayings to the kids. One of the ones I like to say to the kids, 'You have to prepare to be uncomfortable.' It is the kind of sport where you are going to be uncomfortable running. They get into the mindset where they start understanding. As freshman they sometimes don't, but they kind of gravitate to what the more senior runners are doing and they understand what it takes to be a champion.

Aqua jogging after the run at Coach Mogg's house

What is the secret to Royal High School success?

Coach Luce: I am going back to the early 2000s and the NTN years (now called NXN). We had quite a few motivated runners, of course, a motivated coach and then we had good parents that helped out the kids. Those were magical years and success bred success, everybody wanted to come out and run. We were having some good sized teams back then. I enjoyed running with the team and that inspired them. You know we would be doing hill repeats and they wanted to stop at 15 and I would say, "Well I am doing 20 hill repeats." They saw the coach doing that and they turned around and finished the workout. So it was the hard work that we instilled in them over the long period of time. That was what the new runners just knew about the program that would help the program.

Coach Mogg: Another thing is that I have been coaching here for my fifth season for cross country and five years of track. Our relationship goes back farther than that because I coached the Simi Valley Running Rebels Youth Team from 1996 to 2007. This was sixth, seventh and eighth graders and from there it was a feeder program to Royal and that cemented our relationship. We started to coach together and it became so natural. I would encourage the athletes to run at Royal and Ryan would make them better.

To check out Royal's run, click HERE for the photos

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