WAC Champions, Cross Country in on the run for another title: Houle’s outlook on 2014 season

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Micah Jensen, Staff Writer

First appeared in print on September 1, 2014

Growth and success has been a rapid process here at Utah Valley University. This is even more evident when one looks at the athletics program. Scott Houle, head coach for the cross country team has been a major component in the success of the team for a long time.

Houle is in his 11th season as head coach. Through that time, the cross country program has seen major success, including winning UVU’s first WAC championship in their inaugural year in the conference.

“Past preparation will be key,” said Houle on the topic of having another successful year. Houle’s past 11 years of coaching in this position has been spent creating a seven-year-recruitment-cycle that accounts for the transient nature of Utah Valley. His system makes sure that he is constantly preparing for the next season so the team will always have great athletes to replace the ones leaving, which makes sure that UVU never has a slow, rebuilding year.

With runners coming and going each season, Houle will try to empower the runners by giving them more responsibility as athletes. He heavily relies on positions like team captain as a key to maintain a cohesive unit.

“There are no time outs in running,” said Houle, because he knows that once the event starts there are no chances to talk to your runners. The inability to make timeouts makes his job harder and so UVU runners are trained to be the coaches themselves, a major contributing factor to the success of the team last year. They are anticipated to compete at the same high level again this year.

Obviously last year’s team is a model that everyone in the WAC is trying to outperform which makes repeating even more difficult. Houle contributes future success on having a deep roster, something he has focused on and has improved. He is determined to have a whole team of all-stars and not just talented individual runners. The ability of a team to have all players as contributors is a mark of success. In cross country, all efforts are counted for and every person’s points are needed to win a championship.

There are two contributing factors to succeed on repeating and bringing home another WAC championship trophy. First, more exposure and a stronger fan base is needed. The support of the student fan base is huge in bringing our teams success. UVU teams have been putting up championship banners and yet student support is lower than it should be but the plan is that in time it will grow. As students see and hear about the success of other students performing as athletes, it should be expected to see a higher fan base at games.

Second, more money is needed. Right now, even on a low budget that severely restricts the amount of traveling the team can do, as well as the amount of couches UVU can have, the cross country program is still claiming titles and making big impressions in the WAC conference.

Overcoming these two challeges will take time but Houle is optimistic about the future of the cross country teams and the athletics department as a whole here at UVU.

“Our goal is to win a conference championship,” said Houle and continues with confidence, “we cannot be satisfied with our expectations.”

It will be another exciting season for the cross country team.  UVU can expect great success this season as the runners carry over energy from last year’s win, continue to perform with their all-star caliber roster, and look to provide maturity on the course with mental toughness.

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