Speech: How the seniors made my freshman year incredible

The cross country team for my high school held a banquet and a number of seniors gave speeches. To at least partially pay them back for what they’ve done for me, I wrote a speech of what I’d say if I had been at the podium.



Good evening,

As a freshman coming into Wootton, I was more optimistic about high school cross country than anything else. It didn’t let me down. The five months since have produced an experience that was even better than what I thought possible. Looking back, my freshman year was amazing and I’ll treasure this season above all others. Many people made it happen, but today I want to highlight one group that has made an invaluable impact on me over the five month span. That group would be the seniors, for not only teaching me how to succeed in cross country but how to succeed in high school and beyond.

When I was running cross country at Frost, I longed for an older, faster runner to take me under his wing and prepare me for the future. This season, not one but four seniors have filled that role. Colin, Cliff, Jacob, and Sam have provided blueprints to being successful cross country runners and have taken steps to put me on that same path to success. Just running with them during every road run and workout made me a stronger, faster runner. With them on the same team, I had experience and wisdom at my disposal and, with them in front, the pressure was lessened immensely and I never ran alone.

Those four guys also showed me how to lead a cross country team. All season long I’ve taken mental notes, picking up on everything they do to contribute to the success of the team. They gave me support and encouragement as I navigated uncharted waters and gone above and beyond to help me fit in. Toughness, poise, and determination are a few of the traits they’ve put on display on a daily basis. At the same time, they are fun to be around and made life entertaining.

Colin, Cliff, Jacob, and Sam weren’t the only seniors that smoothed my transition to high school. I didn’t know where to find a lunch table where I belonged. By the second day of school, I’d taken a permanent seat at the cross country table, which I thought too good to be true. Throughout the school day, I could count on the seniors to be there for me and greet me in the hallways. The seniors treated me with respect and as a friend and went out of their way to do so.

I’m thrilled for the opportunity to run with the seniors during outdoor track and will miss them when they move on. As opportunities to lead multiply in my cross country career, I’ll remember their example and excellence. The seniors ran a strong race and finished it well. What I’ll remember about them is how they pointed me and all of the other runners in the same direction.


John Riker

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3 thoughts on “Speech: How the seniors made my freshman year incredible

  1. John, as always, thoughtful and articulate words. Thank you for sharing what was on your mind. Nothing feels better than knowing people appreciate what you do. The seniors you write about should be honored.


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