Two mornings a week, 16 students from Arizona Charter Academy (ACA) in Surprise gathers at Surprise Park with their coaches for cross country practice. The group also meets four afternoons a week, overcoming the warm temperatures to practice running together.
The 16 students, who are in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, are all members of the new cross country running program that was recently launched at the school.
Alyssa Wieser, a middle school English teacher at ACA and the girls’ cross country coach, said she and her husband Robert Wieser met with Principal Heather Henderson last year about forming girls’ and boys’ cross country teams.
“We had a conversation about the tenacity and determination shown by ACA students across all grade levels,” – Alyssa said.
“We feel that cross country is a sport that can not only harness the particular grit shown by ACA Bulldogs, but also continue to nurture it in our students.”
After getting the needed approval to start a cross country program, Alyssa and Robert – who coaches the boys’ program – scheduled tryouts the second week of school. Practices began the third week, with the two teams working out together. Alyssa said she and Robert are impressed with the dedication the 16 runners have shown so far.
The teams are currently practicing for their first cross country meet, which will take place on Saturday, September 10 at Carden of Tucson Charter School.
“Both girls and boys will compete against other teams within the Canyon Athletic Association. We have five additional meets over the next five weeks when we will learn whether we’ve qualified for the Divisional Championship Meet,” – Alyssa said, adding that she and Robert are delighted to be part of the new cross country program.
“We are excited to see how this sport will build and encourage a spirit of perseverance in our student population.”