With a new school year underway, sophomore Jade Mulvey of the University of Utah cross country team is ready to once again hit the books and the track as preseason camp for the Utes begins.
“We spend a lot of time on team building, team chemistry and team culture,” said head coach Kyle Kepler. “We want to bring the new kids into the fold, allowing the upperclassmen to lead lots of different things, and obviously we train together so those are just some key things to get us moving forward.”
While Kepler explained his favorite time of the year is the end because of all the championship meets, he sees how a new school year can also be the best time of the year for his athletes because everyone receives a “clean slate.”
“The team is different and the dynamic has changed,” Kepler said. “It does year to year so you have to respect that, you have to be excited for the season to start and you also have to have a handle on the fact that school is going to start, and the stress is going to start with it. It’s a compound of assignments and practice, so they have to save some of that energy at the beginning of the year and [need to] be able to apply it later when things get stressful.”
Mulvey is one of those athletes who finds starting a new school year to be one of her favorite times. Feeling refreshed at the beginning of the year, Mulvey said it’s her summer training that gets her prepared for the new season. In the summer, Mulvey is especially reminded how much she loves the sport she competes in when she takes advantage of the weather and outside trails before school starts.
“We have cross country then indoor track then outdoor track, so we don’t really get any offseason,” Mulvey said. “By the end of track, it’s just ingrained in you to do your runs, your workouts and your lifts, but at the beginning of the year, it’s more fresh.”
When it comes to starting a new school year, returners on the team already have that experience of what it’s like attending college classes and following training schedules, and that’s why Kepler believes this new season for Mulvey will be different than last year.
“For Jade, I think it’s going to be a lot less stressful in the beginning of the year,” Kepler said. “She’ll be able to really focus more on her training, enjoy what she is doing versus trying to figure out where her classes are, how to study properly and all those kinds of things like the newcomers have to do.”
Although the fall semester is just getting underway, the cross country team won’t be in action until Sept. 2 at the Utah State Invitational. Right now, Mulvey said she is ready to go. She said she feels strong and mentally relaxed in part because she has ran more miles per week than ever before. Mulvey is looking forward to new teammates and the motivation they give her to run.
Kepler said when Mulvey came to Utah, he had athletes come in rated higher than her, but Mulvey worked hard and gained the respect of her teammates. He added it’s hard not to like an athlete like Mulvey because she does things for the right reasons, and he knows that she will continue to do so in the classroom and on the track.
“It’s not about how much scholarships she is on,” Kepler said. “It’s not about how many opportunities she does or doesn’t get. She just wants to show up and train, and when we call upon her, I know she will be ready to go.”