Battlefield High Schools Cross Country teammates have received an invitation to attend a week trip on the Gold Coast of Australia. Due to a certain amount of extraordinary performance here at Battlefield, the Down Under Sports program reached out for runners to represent the state of Virginia in this special event. Although this article is being written about the Cross Country runners, other sports have their own individual weeks, such as, Football (June 30-July 9), Track and Field (July 6-15 or July 7-16), Volleyball (July 13-22), Golf (July 13-22), and Basketball (July 14-23). To attend this trip or the other trips for a different sport the athlete must receive an invitation that is sent to their school and is given specifically to them. The cost is not disclosed until the athlete registers online with their DUS ID that is included in their invitation, although, Down Under Sports states, “We have developed a proven sponsorship fundraising program and special offers to help our athletes cover the cost of this event.” This trip for Cross Country will be held from Saturday, June 26 through Monday, July 8, 2019 and has a schedule planned out for that week, which is outlined in the following paragraphs.
June 29, the runner meets at the International Gateway Airport for flight departure. Going into June 30 is where they will cross the International Date Line, and food will be served on the flight. July 1, they are fed breakfast on the plane, and then arrive in Australia earlier in the day. They meet their tour guides, go sightseeing, have lunch, and attend a orientation meeting. After the meeting, they head to check into the hotel and are given a free evening to have fun to do what they would wish.
The remainder of the trip is when all the fun activities are held. July 2, is planned to have breakfast and play beach volleyball afterwards. Later in the day, there will be practice for their race as well as going to kangaroo fields. Dinner will follow after. July 3, the plan is to eat breakfast, run the 5k All-American meet, have a free afternoon, and then meet up for dinner. July 4, practice is held before breakfast. After breakfast there will be a trip to a theme park, and a dinner later that evening. July 5, after breakfast they are to attend practice, go to a wildlife sanctuary, take a team photo, take an individual photo with a koala bear, and then have dinner. July 6, eat breakfast, then run the second race which is the 5.7k Gold Coast Run, and then have dinner. The second to last day, July 7, is planned for them to meet for breakfast and have a free day with different activities that are optional. Before the farewell ceremony that evening, they will eat dinner. July 8, is the last day and runners will check out of their hotel, head to the airport where they will depart for the United States, have meals on flight, and then arrive home. This schedule is planned out for the athletes to not only be focused on the sport but to also have some fun and explore Australia.
This trip includes many excursions for the athletes to attend, but runners have different opinions for this trip, Senior Zach Shaffer states, “I think they try to appeal to athletes by making it seem like an exclusive opportunity, but in reality it is not much more than a summer camp where you have to pay for everything.” Shaffer continues, “It could be a fun opportunity for athletes who want a unique experience, but it is not an elite competition for the best runners in the world.” This trip is full of activities and is more like a vacation, and is not shaped for the best, but is looking out for more than average runners.
Runner Farah McDaniel, a sophomore from Battlefield High School, received an invitation and states, “I think it’s a good opportunity for high school athletes to test their limits, and I would go because it would be a fun experience and getting to do the sport that pushes me.” The trip is an opportunity for athletes to get away to enjoy a trip and to participate in the sport they love as well. Although, going to Australia may be far and have expenses, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for high school level athletes. The big trip is this summer, good luck to everyone who goes!