New cross country captains look to lead with example

To Alec Font, Timothy Slack and Nicholas Celico, work ethic is one of the keys to good leadership.

The phrase, “Actions speak louder than words,” may be cliché, but it’s the simplest way to describe the mindset of this year’s cross country captains. Font, a senior in his second year as a captain, reiterated this by saying, “I don’t have to say as much, it’s my actions that influence the underclassmen more.” It’s no question Font’s ability and resume speaks for itself, as he was named to three All-Country teams in high school and has been a key member of the cross country and track teams at URI.

Slack and Celico, both juniors at the University of Rhode Island, stepped into the captain position after only two years of running for Coach John Copeland. Copeland, however, is extremely confident in these two in leading the team on and off the course. He trusts these two wholeheartedly.

“I think both of them had pretty breakthrough seasons last year as sophomores,” Copeland said. “Both of them have done a lot, a lot of work to make that step up.”

For Slack, the focus is on showing the young guys what it’s like to be in a leadership role on the team. Leadership isn’t new to Slack, as he was the captain of the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track teams at his high school. Slack wants to, “show the younger guys how to be a good role model.”

“In a few years it’ll be their turn to be elected captain,” Slack said. “Hopefully I can set that example for them.” Slack, out of Audobon, New Jersey, feels humbled to be a captain after only two years. “Coach always told me, ‘You’re doing a good job with the young guys, they see what you’re doing around them, how you’re treating them.’ So it’s definitely humbling.”

Celico, a 2014 Rhode Island Wrestling Individual State Champion, is no stranger to hard work. Celico, who also ran cross country and track at Bishop Hendricken High School, has brought the lessons he learned on the wrestling mat to the cross country course. He feels that, “The hard work aspect is the biggest thing- never giving up, and when you plateau just keep pushing until you breakthrough and spike up again,” Celico said. “When I’m running, I remind myself, ‘You could be wrestling right now.’”

In terms of his role as a captain early in his career, Celico looks to emulate a good work ethic. “It’s great to have a good voice, but if you don’t lead by action, people are going to pick up on that. If you’re consistently being disciplined on your runs, your diet, your lifestyle, people will pick up on that and say, ‘I want to be like him, he’s a captain.”

All three captains look to finish as one of the top 10 teams in their conference this year. Coach Copeland, who has high confidence in his runners, said, “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year in cross country, so it should be fun.”