By ARIEL COOPER
There may be no “I” in team, but every team needs a leader. The Cornell women’s cross country team has not just one leader but three. Senior tri-captains Marianne Collard and Casey Phlegar and junior tri-captain Caroline Kellner are only just starting to get their feet wet in their leadership roles this season, but already these three women have shown that they are up to the challenge.
“I think this group of three complements each other very well in terms of the things they bring to the table,” said women’s cross country coach Artie Smith. “Each of these three women are very good examples of the value of hard work and perseverance through empathy.”
Collard, who has been on the team since her freshman year, said she has enjoyed watching the team progress each season.
“I’ve learned a lot throughout the years from previous captains … just what has worked on the team and what hasn’t,” she said. “It’s been cool to see our team develop because they’re getting better and better and more nationally competitive each year. It’s really cool to be a part of that growth.”
Three captains may seem like a lot, but since the Red has one of the largest cross country teams in the nation, it makes sense. Each captain has been able to take on her own role to form a comprehensive leadership team.
“I think it’s really great that we have three captains because we definitely all have different strengths and different things we’re really excited about and focus on,” Kellner said. “I would say I’m probably more quiet but I hope that my determination and hard work at practice or lifting and trying to plan a lifestyle that’s conducive to running well … I hope that shines through and inspires my teammates to do the same thing.”
Collard said she looks out for her teammates by making sure that they aren’t pushed beyond their limits.
“I guess I’m probably the more honest one,” she said. “I’m not afraid to tell the coach if something is going wrong or people are really sore and we shouldn’t be doing this workout.”
Phlegar sees herself as the one who pulls the team together and encourages them to stay strong even when things get a little rough.
“I kind of am a unifier of the group,” she said. “I just keep people positive throughout our tough workouts and on races when we get nervous.”
Smith said he was very impressed by how well the captains have been working together.
“It’s clear that all three of them care deeply about their teammates and they care deeply about their teammates success but also about their teammates wellbeing.”
Another benefit to having three captains is that it gives each teammate multiple people to turn to if she is struggling or needs some advice.
“Having three women with different experiences, different backgrounds, different strengths, really makes it more likely that everybody on the team has someone they can come speak to, look up to, and feel comfortable working with,” Smith said.
Marianne Collard, Casey Phlegar and Caroline Kellner emphasize collaborative leadership this season. (CONNOR ARCHARD / SUN SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR).