The 2016 Cross Country season wrapped up Thursday night at the team banquet. It was a wonderful yet emotional evening filled with celebration, recognition, and reflection.
After a tasty pot luck dinner, Head Coach Rachael Batts and Coach Jordan Arkle handed out medals and t-shirts to each athlete by grade saving the seniors for last. Nineteen seniors received medals, t-shirts, and a gift bag that included a team picture signed by the coach with heartfelt sentiments that will be cherished for years to come. Five of the seniors, Savannah Cowart, Elizabeth Dudle, Kevin Jacobs, Deland Saville, and Donovan York are 4-year veterans. One senior, Nathan Bowden, is a 5-year veteran as he joined Coach Batts’ XC team when he was in 8th Grade.
The team captains (below) Deland Saville, Savannah Cowart, Reese Galloway, & Elizabeth Dudle were recognized for their outstanding leadership.
Eight special recognition awards were handed out:
Most Improved: Donovan York & Rebecca Schannep
Most Dedicated: Nathan Bowden & Lindsay Gappa
Heart of the Lion Award: Lukas Davis & Beth McKee
Athletes and guests were then treated to a slide show filled with pictures and videos of many fun memories of summer XC camp, practices, team dinners, team parties, bus rides, racing in meets, sweat, blood, & hospital visits. At the end was a touching tribute to the seniors who will be so dearly missed next year. Tears were wiped.
The coaches thanked all the parent volunteers who helped host two XC meets, hosted team dinners, helped with fundraising, and who always came out to the meets to support the runners. Special recognition went to the talented Nona Short who recorded the entire season with her incredible photography. She shares her beautiful pictures on the Prattville High XC Facebook page.
Then as all good things come to an end, Coach Batts announced she will be giving up her post as head coach next season in order to focus on her growing family. Coach Arkle will step up as head coach next season. Coach Batts grew the PHS XC program from a mere 17 athletes to almost 60 strong. She developed the program to include summer camp, team dinners, team events in the off-season, and a healthy & positive atmosphere that kept the runners coming back year after year. Many athletes that she coached went on to run in college, some even receiving cross country scholarships. With the enormous amount of time & effort that she invested in this program and the athletes themselves, she deserves the “Above & Beyond” award. Everyone in the room expressed their gratitude for all that she has done. Tears were wiped.
She will be greatly missed next season!