Article and Photography by Alice Mary Herden
Julia Joy Morgillo, who is a social studies teacher, joins Springstead High School as their Head Coach for their cross country team and Assistant Coach for track. Morgillo joined the Eagles and traveled to Florida from Connecticut to be closer to her family. “I was fortunate enough to get a job early on in the school system. I met Coach Kupcik, and he told me about an opening as an assistant for the track team, and the rest worked out,” said Morgillo.
Her passion for running at a young age and throughout college encouraged her to participate in marathons. “I just adopted it as a part of my holistic, healthy lifestyle,” she said. And that holistic, healthy lifestyle is what she is hoping her runners will embrace. “What I am trying to bring to the team is this idea of holistic training or the long-term idea that running is a lifestyle. It’s important to listen to our body... We have to be ahead of everyone else, obviously, we want to make progress, and progress means having a square one to start from,” Morgillo said.
On the boy’s side, the team is a mixture of sophomores and juniors. Springstead’s previous coach for the cross country program helped form a good foundation on which Morgillo is building from. “Mileage is important but also teach them pacing and try to teach them to work together as a group,” she said.
For the girls, Morgillo is working on getting them healthier and introducing a way to embody mental awareness. “Yoga is something I brought to the program that is new,” she said. “The mental part of this individualization is one thing I coach during certain (yoga) poses and also breathing techniques that are calming,” Morgillo said.
The runners learn to apply those breathing techniques during warm-ups and race days are essential in cross-country running. Senior Alison Bennett has been a cross country runner since 9th grade. “I have become more positive. Having the team with you is good. Doing it alone is a lot easier to quit, but when you have people doing it with you, it’s easier to stay motivated,” Bennett said.
Isaac Rosario and Andrew Brittain are two runners with the same goal of completing the 5k under 19:30. “It gets tiring in the middle and near the end. I want to try to keep a steady pace for all three miles,” said Brittain.
“Keeping the same speed throughout the entire three miles and not wasting all my energy in the first one and a half,” said Isaac Rosario. Running is a way for Andrew to clear his head and keeps him physically active, and for Isaac, it’s liberating. “There is nothing really stopping you, except obviously your own limitations,” Rosario said. The Eagles travel to Citrus County to compete in the Lecanto Invitational on Saturday, September 11. “I think it’s going to be a good year for us,” Morgillo said.