The Student News Site of Flintridge Sacred Heart

Veritas Shield

The Student News Site of Flintridge Sacred Heart

Veritas Shield

The Student News Site of Flintridge Sacred Heart

Veritas Shield

Cross-country’s unbreakable bond

Gaby Gamboa ‘25
Runners ease their nerves before the Mission League Meet #2 race at Crescenta Valley Park.

6a.m. morning practices, eating in Nish’s room, Mammoth trips and running in the rain together—these moments forge the strong bonds within Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s cross-country team. While the team is widely recognized for their tight-knit connections with one another, what exactly fuels these close relationships among the runners?

“We went to Mammoth together for five days, so that’s when the team got close, and we spend a lot of time with each other during practices,” Sophia Astalis ‘26 said.

Apart from being together often, the cross-country team’s strong bond is fostered by their encouraging and supportive coach, Mr. Kirk Nishiyama, known as Nish by students.

“Cross-country is by far the closest team I have coached,” Nish, Mathematics teacher, Cross Country Coach and Softball coach said.

Nish has 29 years of coaching experience and mentioned that his favorite part of being a coach is the relationship he builds with his athletes.

He nurtures a supportive team dynamic where runners build stable relationships with one another.

“Nish encourages us to be nice to each other,” Astalis said. “We had a small talk about how we shouldn’t judge someone on how fast they run because we are a family.”

The closely-knit team of runners is built on mutual respect and support, values instilled by Nish.

“In our team, respect isn’t based on ability; it’s based on dedication and effort,” Nish said.

The team’s success begins with a good leader.

“I have never found a team with such kind, down-to-earth people,” Gabriella Gamboa ‘25 said. “Nish makes sure we push ourselves, but more importantly, he makes sure we are pushing each other.”

The team supports each other through the challenges that come with the sport.

“Friends will always be friends, but the cross country runners are a whole other level. You run together, you suffer together, you push each other past your limits together, you recover together and you lift each other up,” Gamboa said.

Astalis observed the runners growing closer each day by consistently showing up, giving their best effort and racing as a united team.

“This [supportive bond] doesn’t just happen because of the relatability of pain and suffering amongst the entire team. It’s also because everyone on this team puts in the effort to build a family,” Gamboa said.

Ultimately, what makes the team  tight-knit is the runners themselves. They don’t just see each other as teammates; they owe it to each other to do the best of their ability and tackle every mile side by side.

“Cross-country is not for the weak of mind or heart. I never finish a race because my legs can do it, I finish a race because my heart cares so much about not letting the team down,” Gamboa said.

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About the Contributor
Daniela Mungia
Daniela Mungia, Staff Writer
New to the Veritas Shield, Daniela Munguia is a sophomore staff writer who can't wait to see what this year has in store for her. On The Hill, she’s involved in Speech and Debate and Track and Field. In her free time, when she isn’t listening to music, reading, or running for fun, Daniela enjoys hanging out with her friends and family.

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