The Women’s Cross Country Team Comes Together

Courtesy of Ashley Bosch

During her senior year of high school, Ashley Bosch put down her field hockey and lacrosse sticks and stepped up to the starting line instead.

In high school Bosch ran track, but when she came to Framingham State her freshman year, she found her passion for running cross country.

“My senior year of high school, for my spring season, I would usually do lacrosse. However, all my friends were doing track, so I signed up just to be with my friends. I ended up doing mid-distance to distance – I really fell in love with it,” said Bosch.

She said she reached out to Coach Scott VanderMolen at FSU, sent him her times, and he welcomed her to the team.

Fast forward, and Bosch is now captain of the women’s cross country team.

Bosch, VanderMolen, and the team were devastated when this season was canceled due to COVID-19.

“We were all upset. Cross country is a huge part of our lives. It takes up a lot of our time in the fall,” said Bosch.

She added, “We expected it. We know COVID is a big thing and that it’s not going to go away quickly.”

VanderMolen is proud of how the team has pulled together.

“Our team takes pride in being a supportive group and that has been consistent through this pandemic,” he said.

“It has been a powerful learning experience for everyone. They’ve dramatically improved at training without the structure of a normal season. I think it will help us take advantage of off-season training and find out what we’re capable of,” said VanderMolen.

Despite the bad news, the women’s cross country team stayed in good spirits.

“We were still happy that we were able to practice. At least we still have that little bit,” said Bosch.

“We are a very close-knit team. We all get along and still talk every day, but it was different maintaining that bond this season. Normally, we would have the pre-season, but we did not have that this year,” she said.

Bosch continued, “We have done some socially-distanced team bonding activities that the other captains and I have put together. But going through harder races with your team strengthens that bond and not having those is different.”

She has tried to remain optimistic and busy during this trying time.

“With being all remote, it is difficult to find motivation to go out and run. My goal has been to be as consistent as possible through this,” she said.

Being on the cross country team has positively impacted Bosch’s life.

“The team becomes your family, especially in the fall. Most people’s schedules match up, so we get to see each other a lot. They have become like a family to me and I have made some of my best friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life,” said Bosch.

She continued, “On and off the course with running, you learn a lot about yourself. You must build strong confidence within yourself. Running is a very mental sport, so the team is always helping each other and building up confidence in one another.”

Bosch is proud of the work she has put into the team.

“I did some community service work through the team. Last year, I read to a fourth-grade class. I am one of the social media coordinators for the [Student] Athletic Advisory Committee. I have represented the team with both of those activities,” said Bosch.

“Those are two things that I am really proud of. I have been able to spread awareness for our team not just through the athletic department, but also to the community,” she added.

Bosch discussed their training regimen during COVID-19.

“We all get sent our runs from our coach. Then, every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings, we meet up as a team and run together. When we don’t run together, we are expected to run on our own,” said Bosch.

“A lot of kids are still at home which is hard because they are farther away. I am lucky because I was able to get an apartment close to campus, so I am always around the area,” she said.

Although most of the athletes run on the same days, their individual training plans differ.

“Coach Scott does a really good job of tailoring the workouts to each person to help them grow and prevent injury. Our workouts range from hill workouts, faster runs, and easy runs,” said Bosch.

She added, “We have been doing lots of longer workouts. Like a one-and-a-half-mile repeat at a tempo pace. If we were competing, we would do a lot more tempo workouts.

“Sometimes we do band workouts, and push ups to strengthen our hips,” she said.

Bosch offered some advice to the underclassmen on the team.

“I always say to work hard and trust the process. Our coach makes a long-term regimen for us and he always says, ‘slow and steady wins the race,’ so trust that. Also, understand that it’s not going to be easy,” she said.

“It can be difficult balancing being a college athlete with academics – know that you will come out on the other side. We are all here because we love the sport, never lose that love,” said Bosch.

She is proud of the team’s accomplishments.

“We have grown and have gotten a lot better as a team. In the MASCAC, we were not a real contender when I first came in. We had some of the pieces and slowly we have been building the team. Everyone has been feeling like underdogs, and this season was supposed to be our big underdog season,” said Bosch.

She said, “We had some really good freshmen come in this year. Last season, we had a lot of great meets. In our last championship meet, we placed a lot better than we have in previous years. I think as a team we have been working our way up the MASCAC to become a real contender.”

Bosch reflected on her most memorable FSU race, which was at Franklin Park in Boston last year.

“I ran the best race I have ever run in my life – it was a huge moment. I felt like I was finally in the right space mentally and physically,” said Bosch.

“The support I got from my teammates after was incredible. Everyone knew it was a huge moment for me.”

[Editor’s Note: Kathleen Moore, design editor for The Gatepost, is a member of the women’s cross country team.]