After only two seasons of competing, RAHS’ orienteering team recently took home trophies. The girls’ team placed first in both regular season and the championship, the boys placed third in regular season.
Regular season has eight events every other Saturday, while Championships is one meet at the end of the season. Orienteering is a unique sport that combines both physical and mental abilities, which is perfect for members like junior Dakota Gorder, who co-coaches with Lynnea Colledge.
“The physical challenges are simple: run as fast as possible for as long as possible to the get the shortest time, not unlike cross-country,” said Dakota. “However, the mental element separates it from other sports. The competitor must navigate using only a compass and map and plot their own course of where to go. Most of the waypoints, named controls, have multiple ways to be reached and the runner must calculate how to most efficiently get to it.”
While the team was proud of their victories, support was the most important thing to the members as well as their advisor, Dakota’s father Joe Gorder.
“The team waited at the finish line while it was snowing or in freezing rain, so that when their last teammate finished, they were there to support them,” said Joe. “One meet a teammate lost his electronic time punch on the course, and the whole team went out to help search for it. Another meet, someone was out on the course for over two hours, and the team went out to find him. That’s what being a teammate is all about.”
Because of the team’s success in only its second season, Dakota is proud of the effort the members put in.
“Something that particularly impresses me is how determined the team is to do their best,” said Dakota. “Even though the weather is often miserable, each member of the team ventures out into the unknown and does their best to help lead the team to victory. Their dedication is very inspiring and brings me great pride knowing that all the effort paid off with trophies we could bring home.”
Colledge is also pleased with the victories of the team and gives props to the effort that went in behind the scenes.
“I’m proud that we were able to accomplish this only in our second year, and I’m proud of our team, and especially our new members, for their participation and determination,” said Colledge. “We also would have not been able to accomplish this without our coach Joe Gorder, who was the organizational force behind keeping our team together, and encouraged and guided our team to achieve success.”
In addition to the team victories, junior Carson Lobdell placed second as an individual in both the regular season and the Washington Interscholastic Orienteering League (WIOL) Championships.
“What you might not know is that he likely gave away a 1st place finish in the Championships because he stopped to check on a teammate who got injured during the race,” said Joe. “It is actions like this that exemplify what it means to be a teammate and that makes me the most proud as a coach.”
In addition to the awards and titles, orienteering adds a personal reward by fostering an environment for the growth of team members.
“I love how it builds independence and self-confidence. It takes a degree of confidence to go out into the woods in unfamiliar territory with only a compass and a map to guide you. It gets kids out into parks and open-spaces in our community doing physical activity,” said Joe. “It also teaches problem-solving and develops grit and perseverance.”
The scoring system depends on the top three scorers of the team, so it favors teams with a larger number of participants.
“The dedication and determination of the girls meant that we usually had at least a few runners getting points for the team each week,” said Dakota. “The same was true for the boys; however, most of the schools had well over 6 runners whereas we had only 4, making placing more difficult.”
Orienteering is an appealing sport to the students of RAHS because of the necessary intellectual abilities.
“For someone who is not necessarily gifted with speed, such as myself,” said Dakota, “orienteering provides me with a more even playing field because intuition is just as valuable as speed in orienteering.”
Preparation for events comes in many forms, from reviewing general maps of the park to practicing with others to even pre-event rituals.
“The course is secret so there is no way of preparing for the specific course prior to the event,” said Dakota. “During the off-season, The Cascade Orienteering Club organizes many events that our team participates in just to keep our navigational ability fresh. A personal tradition before the meet is eat Easy-Mac and [drink] a coffee before I run.”
After participating in an orienteering team in each of their middle schools, Colledge and Dakota cooperated to bring orienteering to RAHS.
“They were the ones who wrote an article for the NOTAM to create interest,” said Joe, “held information meetings, and led summer training opportunities that got the team going in the first place.”
Other benefits that the students gain from orienteering include improving their health and simultaneously forming stronger bonds with their teammates.
“We know that daily health and fitness is critical, so orienteering is a fun way to gain fitness and PE credit as well as get to know people from other grades,” said Colledge. “There are also quite a few off-season races coming up, so these are great opportunities to try out orienteering with our team.”
Even with all the victories, members like sophomore Troy Leighton have big goals for the future of the team.
“I want to do even better than what we did this year,” said Leighton. “I want to be able to see our team expand and be able to beat some of the other teams, and then fundraise enough to go to a national competition.”
Because the team is so new, they are trying to bulk up their numbers and add new members to the orienteering family.
“We take pride at Raisbeck for our mental toughness and ability, and in no sport is mental ability as crucial as it is in orienteering,” said Dakota. “We hope that we can further establish a team that represents the school but also provides a source of interaction and fun for those [that are] a part of it. If anyone is interested in joining of have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Lynnea Colledge at email@example.com.”