New Cross Country Team: Interview with Rabbi Sommer


Students at a cross-country race in October.

Ramaz is excited to announce its new Cross Country Team, a revitalization of the older Track Team. Its most significant change is the new faculty advisor: after Ms. Cohen retired from the position, Rabbi Sommer, Ramaz Middle School Judaic Studies teacher, stepped up to the track (pun intended!). Students reacted overly positive to the change; Yoav Shames ’21 said, “I think that Rabbi Sommer is a great fit for the team. And I really think this will be a successful year for the cross country team.”


The Rampage interviewed Rabbi Sommer to learn more about the Cross Country Team and his vision for the new squad.  


Caitlin Levine: How do you envision this year’s team differing from that of previous years?

Rabbi Sommer: Long term, I’d love to make it even more serious than it’s been in the past with uniforms, as well as soliciting greater participation.


CL: Is the new Cross Country Team walk-on or tryout-required? Why?

RS: It’s walk-on. Unlike other team sports, there are no limits to how many people can be on the team, as in theory, as many runners who want can run in a race.


CL: How often are competitions?

RS: Every year there are four races and a playoff.


CL: Where are the practices? Where are the meets?

RS: The practices are in Central Park, and the races are either at Branch Brook Park in NJ or at Van Cortlandt Park in Riverdale.


CL: Who do you compete against? Do you remain within the Yeshiva League or do you branch out to play against other New York City schools?

RS: Within the Yeshiva League. Schools that attend the races include Maayanot, Frisch, Heschel, SAR, and TABC.


CL: What is your favorite part about coaching the team? 

RS: I’m happy to be working with high school students. Some are former students [from the Middle School] which is an added bonus.


CL: Have you ever coached a track team before? What is your experience with track? Were you ever on a track team?

RS: This is my first time involved with a cross-country team either as a coach or as a member of the team. I did run seriously for many years, including racing in eight marathons. I really enjoy running: you get out of it what you put into it more than you do for any other sport. Natural talent helps, but hard work leads to major improvement.


CL: What else would you like to tell me about yourself or about the team?

RS: My wife is also coaching cross-country, in her case for The IDEA School where she teaches, so I have the added bonus of seeing her at races. The coach for Frisch lives across the street from us. I sometimes joke that we could have league meetings at our house.


Overall, Rabbi Sommer promises to be a great addition to the new Cross Country Team, and is excited for many new members to join. Many students are enthusiastic about their participation, including Finley Horowitz ’22 who “loves going on runs weekly with [her] friends.” Longstanding team member Adam Horowitz ’21 advised, “This team is a big commitment because it’s energy-draining and very time consuming, but if it’s a passion of yours then you cannot turn down the opportunity. I’m sure that if you are an outgoing guy like me who is also athletic then this team is a perfect fit for you.”