On June 21st, when other students in the St. Thomas community were well into their summer vacation mode, Coach Labus and members of the Eagle Cross Country team spent the day getting their hands dirty improving the grounds at Memorial Park.
Specifically, the team spent the day replacing invasive Vasey Grass with Brownseed Paspalum, “a great and tough native grass” throughout Memorial Park. Memorial park is one of Houston’s premier green spaces, and a service project to improve it would be a worthwhile endeavor for anyone, but Memorial Park means more to the Eagle cross country team than the average person.
“It is a place for growth and development for the team. In an urban jungle, it is great to have a place you can get off the unforgiving concrete. With a 3-mile running loop and 10 miles worth of multi-use trails, it allows for a variety of options to break up the monotony of running,” head coach Nathan Labus said.
While it is true that thousands of runners call Memorial Park their home, the cross country team learns the value of it well starting out as freshmen runners. Some of the very first 3-5 mile runs a cross country team member will complete turn around at the edge of the park. Once runners are a bit more experienced, the park’s 3-mile loop provides a fast and familiar path for which to measure workouts and work on pacing. It is safe to say that the cross country team has a special relationship with the park, considering the amount of time they spend running there.
Ask any member of the Eagle cross country team, and they will easily explain to you why they are one of the hardest working and most dedicated athletic programs at St. Thomas. This service project shows that their early mornings and hard efforts extend beyond running and into service to the community.