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The Masco Messenger

The Masco Messenger

The Masco Messenger



Since the creation of the Masco girls’ cross country team, Coach Joe Casey has been the head coach. However, after his retirement last season, Assistant Coach Cara Malio earned the position.

  Although saddened by Casey’s retirement, senior Captain Ellie Green was happy to hear that Coach Malio was up next on the mantle. 

  “I was just ecstatic when I heard that she was going to be the head coach,” said Green. “I knew there was no one better for the position.”

  Green has been running since her freshman year and joined the Masco girls cross country team sophomore year, kick starting her cross country running career. She was a captain alongside seniors Reagan Boyd, Willa Paglierani, and Shayna Fishman for the 2023 season.

  “She’s always been so encouraging, if you don’t quite believe in yourself yet she will be there to believe in you,” said Green. “She’ll be there to help you with the mental aspect and help you with the physical aspect.”

  Senior Captain Reagan Boyd has been running and participating in cross country for two years, having gotten involved with the encouragement of the spring track and field coach and talking with girls who were in cross country.

  Even though Casey is no longer the head coach, the team still finds ways to honor him and what he has done for the program in their own way.

  “We still do his little afternoon awards, and we’re saying the same things,” said Boyd.

  Boyd said that Coach Malio has done a good job with keeping old traditions while also introducing new methods and ideas for coaching and the team.

  “She brought this great environment of like, honoring the past, but also bringing in new training that is female-oriented and oriented to balance both recovery and performance, which is, I think, really important in a cross country sport where you’re doing so much running,” she said.

  For the girls’ season, they were 6-1, and made it to the NEC meet where they came in third, and States, where they were one place away from qualifying for All States.This is the farthest they have ever advanced.

  Approaching those meets, Coach Malio took a different approach in their practices and preparation, especially in preparation for states.

  Practices were determined by how the girls felt that day. If they were sore, they took an easier day, if they felt good then they ran a little harder for a longer distance.

   “We were all chatting with each other, and with the coaches, and then going into States, we all felt pretty prepared because our bodies weren’t destroyed. We felt ready to run a good race.”

  For Coach Malio, she was thinking about helping put the girls in the best possible position for themselves individually as well as the team itself. 

  “I have just been trying to help myself and help them kind of manage that  feeling of the unknown, and the fear of how the race is going to go for you, and really just trying to rely on what you’ve done, just to get yourself to that position,” said Malio.

In addition to the 2023 season being the first season that the team has had a female head coach, it is also the first season that the team has had an all-female  coaching staff consisting of Coach Yvonne Yeung, Coach Stefanie Dalton, and of course Coach Malio.

  “They call themselves the dream team, the coaches,and they are the dream team,” said Green. 

  Green said that it was a very special thing, especially since with an all woman coaching staff there could be more conversations between female coaches and female athletes.

  “It’s not like it’s a male coach that we felt uncomfortable talking to about certain things; we didn’t feel uncomfortable talking to them about anything because we could relate to them,” said Green.

  Boyd believes that having a female coach for a female team is important and is the future for female athletic teams.

  “I’m not saying male coaches aren’t good. Coach Casey was amazing, he did so much good for the program. But I think it [having a female head coach] brought kind of a new, unique perspective,” said Boyd.

  Boyd also said that having a female athlete as their head coach for the teams is also equally important because the younger girls have a woman as a role model who is going after her goals as an adult and showing them what healthy habits look like, especially for those female athletes who may not have that role model.

  Malio got into coaching because of the ability to work with kids in an activity and sport she enjoyed while also being able to get her own work done. She is also aware of what kind of workouts may be too much or too little based on her own experiences as a female athlete herself.

  “The more that I’ve done this, I think the more that I see that it’s so important for these girls to have a coach that understands what they’re going through,” said Malio.

  Going into this past season, her goal for the girls was for them to individually do the best that they could, to go from the beginning to the end of the season and see that improvements aren’t always going to be linear.

  “To see that you’re feeling stronger, that you’re running faster than you were, you’re able to do things better this week than you weren’t last week, even if it’s something as small as a workout, or a big race,” said Malio.

  Her own personal goal alongside that, between herself and her fellow assistant coaches, was to help the girls get to that point of improvement.

  “We are using our areas of expertise to make sure that we’re helping them be the most well rounded kind of things that they could be.”

 Malio feels that their main focus this season was on the physical and mental health of the athletes. She has seen girls get injured because of overuse or pushing through pain, and has seen girls in positions where their mental and physical health was not in the best place.

  “You’re not going to have one without the other. In order to be the best runner that you can be, you have to have strong mental health and you have to have strong physical health if you want to take care of your body,” said Malio.

  Malio feels that girls in particular end up putting a lot of pressure on themselves to look a certain way.

  “Women’s bodies change throughout their entire lives, going from an adolescent to a young lady in high school. Your body goes through so many changes that are normal and expected. And I think that for some runners, that’s a hard feeling,” said Malio.

  With the change in women’s bodies, especially in high school, Malio sees that some girls feel as if that now their body has changed that they are slowing down or aren’t as fast compared to their younger selves. However, Malio feels that the focus should be on acclimating to the girls’ new bodies rather than focusing on their speed while their bodies change.

  “So is your body shape a little bit different? Yeah. But can we find ways to make sure that we’re physically strong enough to be able to take care of our bodies to get us to run at our peak performance? Absolutely.”

  With the idea that some girls may be anxious to join cross country, Boyd said that it doesn’t matter how many races you run or if you’ve run before. She wasn’t able to run in any meets her first year due to injury, and she was still just as involved and cared about regardless.

  “We will welcome you with open arms and I know that’s going to be the same for the team in the future,” said Boyd.

  For incoming athletes wanting to join cross country, Green believes that it’s important to not put pressure on themselves and have fun, think positively, and good things will come from that positive mindset. And if someone doesn’t believe in themselves quite yet, the coaches and entire team will help.

  “You’re so much stronger than you believe; you’re so capable of anything,” said Green.

  The Masco girls’ cross country team is a very close group of girls who all support each other to great extents. The change to Malio being the head coach has had a strong positive impact on the girls and team as a whole, and there is no doubt that the team will continue to grow and develop under her guidance.

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