"Run Fast, Turn Left"

Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

By Angela (Grade 12)

When asked to make a statement on the track and field team, Leighton Klassen, a long distance runner, exclaimed, "Run fast, turn left." This may just be a silly phrase, but it has become the slogan of the track team, and exemplifies the attitude of team spirit they have.

Garden Valley Collegiate in Winkler, Manitoba, prides itself on having a history of excellence in their athletic programs. One of the most successful of these is the Zodiac Track and Field team. In the last eight years, the Zodiacs have consistently placed first, second, or third in the province. Even more impressive is the fact that they have won the Zone IV championship for 12 years in a row. John Klassen, the coach of the 1984 track team, and the head of the GVC athletic department, says that team spirit and good coaching were the keys to building this championship team.

The Zodiacs have incredible team spirit. This is very unusual for a track team because track is a very individualized sport. Coach Klassen comments, "At a track meet it's very easy to find the GVC camp, they're the ones that are making the most noise and loving every minute of it."

Another example of the team spirit is the track T-shirts. The front of the shirt is emblazoned with a Superman logo, while on the back of the shirt are the words "Zodiac Track, run fast, turn left". These shirts were designed by members of the team, and the group picked the slogan. Almost every member of the team purchased one, and it is a very common sight to see these shirts being worn in the halls.

Klassen explains that this unique team spirit stems from years ago when there was only one coach for the whole team. Even though they were all competing in different events, the athletes were forced to train together. Now, there are as many as five coaches for the team, but they still try to train together as much as possible. As Klassen puts it, "we really concentrate on the team aspect, a group working together, not individuals".

Klassen says that consistent coaching has also been a big part of the success of the team. Even though there have been many coaches added since 1984, they have all kept the same general coaching style. Virtually all of the new coaches have been former Zodiac track runners themselves. They were coached by Klassen, and now coach the same way, using the same methods.

When he looks at the future of the team, Klassen is confident that the streak will continue. The athletes are also very confident of the Zodiac success in the upcoming season as well as seasons to come. As Klassen likes to say, "Success breeds success". And surely, there is much more success in store for the Zodiacs!

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