Kyle Ekberg | Head Coach | Cross Country – Track and Field | Rockford University

Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?

There are many qualities we look for in high school athletes. Number one, we would like the athlete to be somewhat talented in the disciplines of running. That is not to say we only want a state champ or all state caliber kids, we simply want those who have a physical and mental ability higher than that of a recreational runner. Number two, we want a dedication to prepare. So many athletes out there have lofty goals and most often those goals are healthy and achievable but where there is a disconnect is in the athletes willingness to put in the hours and hours of work to get there. I think a true dedication to prepare is rare. Number three, I want a kid who can maintain composure during competition. When the body aches during a race and the competition is fierce, I want the kid who finds a way to stay in it no matter how much it hurts or how fast the other competitors are. Lastly, I want a kid who is adaptable. Here at Rockford we don’t have as many of the luxuries as other schools do in terms of facilities and equipment which makes practice planning and implementation interesting at times. We need kids who can stay focused and work hard even though we may have to practice at odd times (5am or 10pm etc) or in odd places (hallways, outside in the winter, traveling to other schools to practice, etc). So the four characteristics we want are:

  • Talent
  • Dedication to prepare
  • Composure
  • Adaptability


Could you give us an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?

I have had a number of athletes who have met the criteria I described above and all have met and exceeded their goals. I’ve seen some sprinters set school records out of nowhere, I’ve seen middle distance runners break time barriers they had been dreaming of since childhood, and I’ve seen Cross country runners demolish their high school personal bests during college races.