Kaneland's Stouffer, Etienne Learning Lessons on Life and Leadership
Byline: Orrin Schwarz
It's not easy being a leader. It's not easy showing what hard work really means. It's not easy setting the pace on training runs, inviting teammates for pre-race pasta dinners, sticking your neck out to do the little things that make a team better.
Especially if you're a junior.
David Stouffer is a junior and might be the most talented cross country runner Kaneland has seen. That alone makes him a leader, but it doesn't tell him how to lead or give the confidence to assume the mantle from older teammates.
Find Stouffer on a training run or in a race, and chances are senior Aaron Etienne will be close behind him. Every now and then Stouffer will hear Etienne coming, hear him barking orders to find that next gear, to pull away from the pack and show everyone that talent.
"There's a history of Aaron saying things to him to motivate him," Knights co-coach Chad Clarey says. "(Stouffer) is a very talented individual, and he needs frequent reminders."
Stouffer is learning leadership, and he's got a good teacher.
"He's one of the guys I look up to when I think of my running career," Stouffer says.
"They get along very well together," Clarey says. "David is basically Aaron one year removed. Hopefully, David will learn a little bit from Aaron as far as what leadership takes.
"He's a great kid," Clarey added of Etienne. "He really is. He works really hard, very sincere, and he's been a very good captain for us."
Etienne learned from Henry Norris and Chris Clark, recent Kaneland captains. Now he's filling their shoes instead of following them.
Both Stouffer and Etienne have the talent to compete in college, though Stouffer has the better shot at Division I, Clarey says. It's just a matter of how much dedication to the sport Stouffer wants to show. …