Varsity cross country captain and exemplary student; Sims juggles two important tasks in his hardest year of high school
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Coppell High School juniors Nathan Sims (left) and Alan Huo (right) run neck and neck at the District 7-6A Championship meet at Bob Jones Park in Southlake on Oct. 19. Sims placed sixth, right behind Huo who placed fifth. For Sims and Huo, this seasons meet results were a constant back and forth between placing above the other. Photo courtesy Tamera Westervelt.
By Sloane Samberson
Early to rise, late to bed, Coppell High School junior and varsity cross country captain Nathan Sims runs on ambition and self discipline from the moment he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. for cross country practice, to 10:30 p.m. when he falls asleep after an evening full of homework, waiting to start it all over again.
Sims discovered his passion for long distance running in seventh grade while in Coppell Middle School North’s athletic program.
“Before then, none of us knew that [he could run],” Nathan’s mother Sarah Sims said. “He continued running [cross country] through eighth grade, but did track as well. The summer before his freshman year he did a running camp that a friend had told us about, and I think that’s when he realized he really enjoyed running. He also realized he could continue to improve by learning strengthen and flexibility techniques.”
Since freshman year, Nathan has been a part of the Coppell High School cross country team, each year progressing in his running abilities. Upon assuming the role of a varsity captain as a junior, Nathan’s views of the cross country team began to change.
“It is a whole new perspective of the team just because I have a lot of responsibility over the runners,” Nathan said. “Being a role model and leader not only through my training but making sure everybody else is doing what they are supposed to be doing correctly. Making sure everyone is staying positive and on the right track.”
First year cross country coach Nick Benton already sees Nathan’s effectiveness as a leader in the short time he has been a coach at CHS.
“Nathan’s strengths as a captain on the cross country team is his work ethic and the way he leads by example,” Benton said. “He is one of the hardest working athletes in the program and our younger athletes respect him because of this.”
Not only is Nathan managing this important role of being a varsity cross country captain, but he is also an exemplary student.
Nathan is taking three Advanced Placement (AP) classes as well as a dual credit U.S. History class at North Lake Community College, and exceeding in all of them. Two days out of the week, Nathan is also tutoring a student on geometry.
“I see that Nathan genuinely enjoys learning,” Mrs. Sims said. “He’s self motivated and very set in that realm. He just likes to learn. He likes to learn new things and challenge himself.”
What aids in Nathan’s ability to balance both tasks is his self-discipline.
“When he comes home, whether it’s from school or tutoring, he’s not one to mess around and play games; he comes home and does his homework because he doesn’t want it hanging over him,” Nathan’s father Jerry Sims said. “Something that really helps him is that he has his priorities in line. His faith first, schooling second and then his running. At times, when running has gotten in the way he has opted for school, which blows my mind sometimes. It is his self-discipline that helps him a lot.”
To help keep Nathan on track, his parents are proactive with his busy schedule.
“We usually try to get in front of [Nathan’s schedule], before he is over committed,” Mrs. Sims said. “Before he signs up for new stuff, we talk about it. He doesn’t always agree with us on that, but we do try to talk through things and figure out if it is feasible to add to his schedule or back off from a few things. Again, Nathan is pretty self aware, so he is fairly good at regulating himself. We’re not afraid to speak up, and most of the time he’ll listen if we have sound advice and reasons.”
Nathan’s parents support him in all his endeavors, but try to focus on the present rather than look forward to the future.
“That is important because we don’t look at this as Nathan’s future,” Mr. Sims said. “We don’t look at running as if it is going to be his profession the rest of his life. We try to make sure he is enjoying it and that he doesn’t feel a lot of pressure. I think that has helped make him a little more successful because he truly enjoys running, it is not a burden.”
For this cross country season, Nathan has high hopes both for himself and for the rest of his team.
“Right now I am looking towards qualifying for state,” Nathan said. “That’s not just my goal, [Benton] wants that as well. Alan Huo also wants to qualify, so we are all working together on that. Besides qualifying for state, by the end of the season I would like to get my 5K time below 16 minutes.”
Huo is a junior and varsity cross country runner at CHS. He has been greatly impacted by Nathan’s leadership.
“Nathan’s work ethic is unparalleled on the team and his dedication to the program rubs off on the runners around him,” Huo said. “I’ve been running with Nathan since the sixth grade and his hard work has definitely influenced the way I run. Nathan shows fearless courage at every race and truly has a passion for running.”
Nathan’s positivity and optimism has really aided him in managing his hardest year of high school and lead role on the cross country team.
“Junior year is incredibly tough,” Nathan said. “Even in the first six weeks it had been really hard. I’m just trying to stay motivated and keep my friends motivated. We are constantly talking about college, just looking towards the future, and I think that is the best thing that we can do. Knowing that all this hard work is going to pay off for something. A lot of it may seem insignificant in the moment, but it will all be worth it in the end.”