Tali Bojdak-Yates, a senior in Academic Choice (AC), has been a Yellowjacket runner since his freshman year, and is currently the boys captain of the Berkeley High School (BHS) cross country team. “I know how to push myself in workouts, and if you show that you’re able to do it, more people are motivated to keep doing it as well,” Bojdak-Yates said.
This year, to follow safety guidelines, the team has been organized into running pods that can socially distance. Students train through a combination of runs and strength routines, and log their miles into an app to see each other’s distances and gain inspiration. While this beats running alone, it is not the same as the experience of practicing all together as a team, and combined with a current lack of competitions, it is harder to be motivated during this unique school year, explained Bojdak-Yates.
One of the main reasons Bojdak-Yates has stuck with the sport for so long, besides his love for running itself, is the tight-knit community he has gained. “I think the community is a very welcoming spot,” he said. “You get to run and work out with your teammates, but you also get to mess around with your friends, and I’ve made many good connections.” This is also a large factor for him wanting to continue the sport in college, where he hopes to use it to create a new community for himself away from home.
The pandemic is not the first obstacle of Bojdak-Yates’ time running. Through his freshman and sophomore years, he struggled with knee injuries and a pulled hip flexor. Now recovered, he stresses the importance of stretching after each time he runs.
Moving forward, Bojdak-Yates’ personal goals include staying injury-free and continuing to improve. He hopes that “[the team] can just have some competitions and start practicing all together,” and work towards winning the league for the second year in a row. The team has also been academically inclined in the past, and will continue to shoot for the academic awards offered in their league.
As the cross country tryouts — currently slated for early December — draw nearer, Bojdak-Yates encourages students to participate. “Anyone can try out, [and] everyone makes the team as long as you have a good attitude and are willing to put in work,” he said.