N.D. - With an increasing focus on healthy living, American Indians
across the country are becoming more active and looking to take
care of their health. The recent addition of the Division II Men
and Womens cross country team at the United Tribes Technical
College is yet another way young Natives can get on the path to
country running is very similar to road racing except for instead
of roads, most courses run through golf courses or dirt trails.
According to Becki Wells, a 20-time state champion in track and
field and cross country who has been selected as the head coach,
cross country running is "more geared for endurance-type athletes,
the stronger runners."
a member of the Blood tribe, is eager to see what her team can do.
"As with any program it is going to take time," she told
Indian Country Today in a recent interview. "Rome was not built
over night and I do not expect they [the team] run at a national
level right off the bat
but I do feel I have the capabilities
and experience to make this program into a national caliber program
in the future, how long that takes depends on the athletes I get
and how dedicated they are to their training."
and training should not be an issue for the five men Wells currently
has on her roster. Several have played with the UTTC basketball
team and were former high school track and cross country champions.
Andrew Estes, a sophomore and former cross country star from South
Dakota looks to be the top runner. Also from South Dakota, Francis
Azure was just added. Terri Trotter, who won a State title in the
4 x 800 meter relay for Bismarck High School, is another member
of the first year team. Tyler Charging and Michael Link Later, two
UTTC basketball players with "natural speed" round out
the roster thus far. The sole female runner so far is Ada McCormick
from Lapwai, Idaho. While at Lapwai High School, McCormick did not
run cross country or track but excelled in basketball and looks
to have some running talent.
to Wells, "the basketball guys have great anaerobic (sprinting)
capabilities, I will have the challenge of getting them in aerobic
sharp for cross country."
an accomplished runner herself, began running at an early age. She
recalls running with her father as a youngster in Montana. "My
father ran track and cross country at Dawson High School, in Glendive,
Mont. and ran road races up into his mid-30s, so he was still training
when I was young, and every so often my sister and I would talk
him into letting us go." Wells and her father arent the
only active ones in her family, Wells mother also ran track
in high school and Wells sister was a national cross country
champion at Drake University. She is currently the cross country
coach at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Wells younger brother has won state titles in several track
and cross country events.
feels that there are more benefits to running than merely the physical
payback. "The dedication and discipline it takes to compete
at a collegiate level will transfer into other areas of their lives
I hope I can show my athletes that there is more to life
than indulging in self-destructive behaviors.
rewards are more than winning, the rewards are learning discipline,
accountability, sacrifice, and being able to walk away saying you
did your best, those things will make them [the athletes] a success
in life not just in running."
Tribes Technical College located in Bismarck has been dedicated
since 1969 to serving the academic, social, and cultural needs of
American Indians. The college prides itself on providing a comprehensive
education and helping students attain self-sufficiency and an improved
quality of life.