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A Day in the Life: Kevin Walker and Ryan Proto, Cross Country Captains

North Branford cross country runs on the leadership of senior Kevin Walker and junior Ryan Proto. As the team prepares for the 2011 season, both captains are excited about the school's growing cross country program.

North Branford Patch: What first got you interested in cross country?

Ryan Proto: My brother. I ran cross country in 7th and 8th grade because my brother told me I should try it. I don't really like running that much. In that way, Kevin and I are complete opposites. I like racing and he doesn't really like racing. I do track in the spring and indoor track in the winter.

Kevin Walker: I wanted to get into shape. My sister really pushed me to start my sophomore year. She was a big influence. She made me join the indoor track team, and that made me want to do cross country, and that made me want to do track. 

North Branford Patch: How is cross country different from other sports?

Proto: The main difference between cross country and other sports is there's no politics. This sport is just based on your time so it's just performance-based. Even if you aren't a great runner, you can still run against your personal time. The sport could be for anyone. 

Walker: It's about the accomplishment and the feeling you get when you meet your goal. You don't feel too good during the races, you don't feel too good during practice, but it's all worth it when you cross the finish line and you see your time drop by a minute or two.

North Branford Patch: In a sport that depends on individual performance, how important is the team element?

Proto: Our team is pretty close. We're always building each other up. In this sport, you want to be as good as the person in front of you. In practice, the person in front of you pushes you to be better.

Walker: I still think cross country is a team sport because whenever the guys' team is running, the girls' team is lined up along the course cheering us on, and whenever the girls' team is running, the guys' team cheers them on. Everyone supports each other.

North Branford Patch: How would you describe where you are now compared to when you first joined the team?

Proto: From my best time freshman year to my best time sophomore year, I dropped three minutes. This I'm expecting to drop at least one minute. I came a long way from my freshman year.

Walker: Today I'm a lot more dedicated. I'll put in miles on my own rather than just doing the workout at practice. I think I've overall improved as a runner. 

North Branford Patch: How would you describe North Branford competitively against other teams?

Walker: We could be better. We're getting there, slowly but surely. Last year, a couple good freshmen joined the team, Sean O'Connor and Zach Augur. We're building the foundation. 

North Branford Patch: What is your goal for the team this season?

Proto: I want everyone on the team to end the season with a sense of accomplishment. I want them to know that they tried their hardest. In terms of ranking, I'd like to get a decent standing in Shorelines. 

Walker: I'd like to see everyone on the team meet their personal goals for their times. I'd like to get as many people as possible in the top 20 for All-Shorelines.

North Branford Patch: What kind of leader do you try to be for your teammates?

Proto: I try to lead by example. If we're given the option to run an extra loop, I'll do that just to show the team encouragement. If someone is competitive like me, I'll challenge them to push them even harder. 

Walker: We try to keep everyone focused. We try to encourage people and to be there when the team needs us. 

North Branford Patch: What did you learn from previous captains?

Walker: The captains last year were great. They were all very supportive. , and Corinne McHenry were amazing captain. They would help you no matter what. So I try to model myself off of them.

North Branford Patch: How would you describe a day in the life of a captain?

Proto: We lead stretches and we help motivate the team. Once the season starts I'll really know for sure though.    

Walker: Day to day, it's keeping people in line when they get bored and making sure the team does the whole workout. The biggest part is being there for the team. 

To be featured in ‘A Day in the Life’ or to suggest someone who should be profiled, send information to Jim Gangi.

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