By Jac St. Jean
Springfield College is an institution known for its athletics. There are a wide variety of varsity sports teams offered. Out of all of them, there lies one sport in particular that is arguably the most simple, and also the most grueling: Cross Country.
An eight kilometer run for the men and a five kilometer run for the women. A simple task to run the race as fast as you can, all while withstanding the elements of mother nature. Woodland paths, open fields, the blazing sun, and sometimes the pouring rain.
One Springfield College student-athlete who has impressed his coaches, teammates and peers at his ability to perform in this sport is junior John DeRosa. The Shelton, Conn. native is considered to be the epitome of Springfield College Cross Country.
“He always sets a good example,” said Coach Steinman. “He’s not maybe the loudest person in the room or outside, but he’s someone that’s just always leading by example, doing the right things, the little things… always trying to see what he can do to try to get that edge.”
In the first race of the year, DeRosa led his team to a first place team finish at the Early Bird Invitational 5K race at Keene State University, with a personal first place finish and a personal best time of 15:43.6. However, it’s more than just DeRosa’s elite running ability that places him in an integral position on the team.
“He’s great with starting warmups, and leading workouts… he’s very positive… he gives that vibe around the whole [team],” says Coach Steinman.
After talking with DeRosa for a few, Coach Steinman’s words can be felt. DeRosa’s positive vibe is extremely contagious, and his mindset on the sport is a rare one.
“At first I was in the same mindset as other athletes,” DeRosa explains. “When it came time for practice, I used it like a job or like a class, like ‘oh I have running again’ I was not a fan of running. But I think being a part of the team, and using [running to] relieve stress… going for a run with your teammates and buddies and enjoying the outdoors, it releases all that stress and creates a happier mind.”
While DeRosa’s ability and mindset prove his spot as one of the top guys on the team, his journey to the peak is surely inspiring. DeRosa began running cross country in the seventh grade, and was one of the slowest runners on his team. Despite this, DeRosa’s attitude, determination and grit pulled through, and by his senior year of high school in 2018 he was given SCC Fall Sports All-Conference honors, being named on the all-conference second team for boys cross country. Coach Steinman recruited DeRosa that same year, and saw his work ethic come to fruition.
“He really developed his senior year of high school,” Coach Steinman states, “he was working hard, he was running OK times, and then at the end of his senior year he just exploded. You see that sometimes, but I think it was just a lot of him growing in the sport and maturing.”
DeRosa continued his success this year by placing forty-first in the UMass Dartmouth Invitational on September 18. He finished the five mile race with a time of 25:48.6, with an average mile time of 5:09.8. DeRosa not only credits his own hard work for his success, but also the Springfield College community that he has submerged himself into.
“Knowing that you’re in a good community as a whole,” DeRosa elaborates, “it’s a place that you know you can grow as a person, and that’s great.”
DeRosa also credits his team for his stellar performances and has a strong love for his fellow runners.
“As I grew as a runner and got to college, I realized that running is a team sport,” DeRosa exclaims, “it looks very individualized, but it really is a team sport… having a strong pack of guys on the same basis helps a lot.”
DeRosa’s fiery passion for running oozes over into other aspects of his life. Majoring in History and Secondary Education, DeRosa is loving his education program, and has hopes of teaching in a middle school or high school while also coaching cross country.
“Being a Springfield College runner and athlete is unmatched,” DeRosa states, “but even after I’m done here I still want to run marathons, run half-marathons, and spread the love for running with my friends, students, and everyone.”
DeRosa plans to teach, coach and train athletes that were once like him. Ones that might not start out hot, or be naturally athletic, but through the training process and working hard they are able to reach great success. DeRosa embodies the philosophy that Springfield College preaches. His positive spirit, keen mind, and strong body all attribute to his leadership on the cross country team, and his future service to his students.
Photo: Springfield Athletics