Nana Dondorful-Amos ’22, co-captain of Girls Cross Country, began her Hopkins athletic career with a brief stint on the Junior School Girls Soccer Team. After finding herself wishing for “more running in [soccer] practice,” Dondorful-Amos joined Cross Country in eighth grade and hasn’t stopped running since.
Part of Dondorful-Amos’ love for running comes from the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies improvement, which can be easily measured through race times. When training, Dondorful-Amos admits that it can be “intimidating.” But once she “see[s her] place and time” after competing in a race, all the hard work “feels like it’s worth it, which is such a great feeling. Running is rewarding.”
As much as Dondorful-Amos loves to run, even she is not immune to the difficulties of the sport. “Running is hard for everyone,” said Dondorful-Amos bluntly. She continued: “Even if you’re a fast runner, it’s still really difficult.” However, Dondorful-Amos has learned how to move past the mental barriers that can often get in the way: “Your brain is not always trying to do what’s best for you; it’s just trying to make you feel comfortable,” she explained. “Sometimes what your body needs is a little push, because you can’t always improve without really pushing yourself.” At the same time, Dondorful-Amos warned against pushing oneself too far, emphasizing the importance of “listen[ing] to your body, not your brain.”
The closeness of the team, which Dondorful-Amos described as “a big friend group,” has made cross-country a highlight of Dondorful-Amos’s time at Hopkins. Some of Dondorful-Amos’s favorite moments have been spent with her cross-country teammates. Team dinners are “especially memorable” to Dondorful-Amos. A staple of team sports at Hopkins, team dinners “help [facilitate] team bonding,” as teammates get the chance to “hang out with each other and play games in a non-school setting,” said Dondorful-Amos.
As captain this year, Dondorful-Amos is taking on additional responsibilities, including leading exercises and runs during practice. Teammate Ava Maccaro ’24 described Dondorful-Amos as a “tremendous leader, guiding the team through [their] runs, workouts, and stretches [with] a sense of humor and a constant smile on her face!” Co-captain Suthi Navaratnam-Tomayko ’22 added that Dondorful-Amos is “excellent at keeping everyone on task and motivated.” Coach Miguel Pizarro observed, “[Dondorful-Amos] leads by example and has the respect of [her] team.” As one of the more experienced members on the team, Dondorful-Amos also acts as a mentor to many of the newer members. Questions “about the workout or "what should I do in this situation?’” said Dondorful-Amos, are often directed to her. Even before assuming the role of captain, Dondorful-Amos was a “kind face” to turn to, said Maccaro. “She welcomed me as an eighth grader when I first ran with the high school team and has been by my side ever since.”
While the Fall 2020 season was largely marred by the pandemic, Dondorful-Amos still has plenty to show for her time on the team. In Fall of 2019, Dondorful-Amos placed sixth at the FAA (Fairchester Athletic Association) Championships, making her part of the FAA First team. That same season, the Hopkins Cross-Country team won the FAA Championships.
This year, Dondorful-Amos is working towards achieving the goals she set at the beginning of the season. Her personal goal is straight-forward: “get faster.” She also hopes “to win FAAs” with her team. But most importantly, Dondorful-Amos is looking forward to “spending one last cross-country season with [her] friends.”