Girls cross country follows birthday traditions


Leah Selm

Taping balloons to girls cross country coach Charles Cutelli’s science room, the team fills his room with decorations to celebrate his birthday. The team used one of their many inside jokes with Cutelli to decorate his room. “My favorite part of decorating was spending time with all the girls and just getting to have fun,” sophomore Claire Hardy said.

Lining up 500 varying sized cups of water, the girls cross country team prepared for coach Charlie Cutelli’s belated surprise birthday celebration. Rather than decorating his room on his birthday Oct. 11, the team waited four days to reveal their surprise.

“[The team was] originally going to decorate on his birthday, but a lot of people had meetings before school to go to, so it worked better on that Monday,” senior and varsity runner Natalie Butler said. “Also, we sort of wanted to keep him in suspense for it. I think it made the surprise better because he had absolutely no idea; he just thought we had forgotten.”

After arriving at the school at 6:45 a.m., science teacher Anthony Piccinni let the girls in to Cutelli’s room to set up for the celebration.

“It’s super fun and rewarding to come together as a team and make it happen because no one person could do it all alone,” Butler said. “We all pitched in and brought some cups. To fill them, we brought pitchers and filled them in the sinks and then filled the cups.”

Each year, the team uses an inside joke from the season to decorate his room. The girls used Cutelli’s reminders to hydrate by putting 500 cups of water around his room.

“We decided to write a lot of funny things that had to do with him always telling us to hydrate around his room,” sophomore and varsity runner Leah Selm. “We wrote ‘hydrate or diedrate’ on one of his whiteboards.”

Due to the team’s delay in decorating, Cutelli was surprised to see his room.

It is always fun to see what they come up with, especially after I thought they forgot about it. It made me feel very important.”

— girls cross country coach Charlie Cutelli

“I was disappointed at first,” Cutelli said. “I actually thought that they had forgotten, which they had done a few years ago. I was not expecting it.”

According to Butler, being on the team all four years made her eager to pursue the tradition.

“It’s special to be able to continue the tradition, especially as a senior, because the seniors when I was younger did the same,” Butler said. “It is cool to be able to set the example for the younger girls on the team in this way and see it all come full circle.”

Not only did the team enjoy getting to come together and have fun, but Cutelli appreciated the team’s kindness.

“Having the girls decorate my room made me feel great,” Cutelli said. “It is always fun to see what they come up with, especially after I thought they forgot about it. It made me feel very important, which was fun.”