For the Long Run

Kate Howard M’11

William L. Fox ’75 became our president in 2009, and almost immediately, the women’s cross country team started buzzing about the possibility of having the University president serve as our team mentor.

Our team had heard the new president was an avid runner and cyclist. He even had a long-standing connection with the program. Lee Pollock ’74, the first St. Lawrence cross country athlete to earn All-America honors, was one of his former roommates during their time on campus as students.

The captains drafted an invitation to be the team’s faculty mentor with cautious optimism, knowing that the president of the University had a demanding schedule. To the delight of the student-athletes and coaches, President Fox graciously and enthusiastically accepted. Over the past 12 years, the team captains have sent their request with the same cautious optimism and received the same gracious and enthusiastic response.

Faculty or staff members volunteer at the request of the athletic teams to serve in the role of team mentor. Their job is to encourage and support the relationship between the classroom and the playing field and serve as an on-campus resource for student-athletes. They may even sit on the team bench during home games, but in the sport of cross country running, there is no team bench, and there is certainly no sitting.

President Fox found ways to go above and beyond in his role by attending 6 a.m. team practices and going on tempo runs through the University trails with the student-athletes, all while learning their names, majors, and hometowns. He celebrated our team and our student-athletes for both their academic and athletic achievements.

Most impactful, however, was the wisdom, the advice, and the encouragement President Fox shared in the huddle before coming together for the pre-race “GUNG-HO” team cheer at our home meets on the Ronald C. Hoffmann Cross Country Course. With calm tone and measured cadence, President Fox quoted authors and poets, shared inspirational anecdotes, and always concluded his remarks by reassuring the runners that their hard work and training had prepared them for the race ahead. The student-athletes listened intently, absorbed the message, and always arrived at the starting line with focus, inspiration, and confidence. Ever true to the mission of the Team Mentor Program, the messages from President Fox continually strengthened the ties between the academic and athletic experience.

For more than a decade, the women’s cross country team has had the distinct honor of being mentored by President Fox. We extend our deepest appreciation and admiration to him for the mentorship, miles, advice, encouragement, and of course, all of the “GUNG-HO.”

Collectively, as we leave the “team huddle” of the Bill Fox presidency, the Laurentian community goes forward to this new starting line with focus, inspiration, and confidence.

Kate Howard M’11 is the head women’s cross country and track and field coach and has served as a coach in the program since 2008. The Team Mentors Program is designed to create a link between varsity athletic teams and members of the campus community. Mentors aid in student-athletes’ growth and development while inspiring a culture of success in all areas of the academic and athletic experience.

Watch the Summer 2020 Saints Coaches Corner Interview with Kate Howard M'11