The Legend of the Ninja
by Cale Shaffer, '91
Many moons ago there was a Penns Valley Cross Country Team. They were fast and strong and ran with grace never known to man before. They trained diligently, spending many hours pushing their bodies to the limit under the hot, red sun. Their teacher was the man known as “the bearded one”, Mr. Bill Miles. Under his guidance and leadership, this team of young and eager runners developed into hardened and victory-hungry athletes. They still had much to learn, however.
One afternoon at cross country practice, the day prior to competition, “the bearded one” instructed his disciples to run eight miles. The team felt that their master had failed them in giving such a difficult run the day before a meet. They decided to rebel against their master. They all went to a hidden place that was surrounded by thick brush. Instead of running, they decided to play a game of Nerf football. They thought they had fooled their coach, but “the bearded one” was not far away.
The team’s teacher had discovered the rebellion and decided to teach the young runners a lesson. He snuck through the woods, through thistles and briars, without making a sound. Slowly he crept, until he was only a few feet away from them. Then, with great dignity and power, “the bearded one” rose from his hiding and shouted in a booming voice, “Get running, NOW!” The team was taken by complete surprise, and they followed their teacher’s instructions instantly.
During their eight mile run, the team had much time to think about what had occurred. They came to a shocking realization that only a Ninja could have the cunning and skill required to sneak through the thick brush. When they returned to the school, “the bearded one” explained.
“Many years ago I was taught in very much the same way as I have taught you. I worked hard to get my body in perfect condition. Once that was accomplished, my teacher instructed us in the ways of the Ninja, just as I am about to instruct you now. A Ninja is a very rare and special warrior. He never gives up, even under the fiercest pressure. A Ninja takes care of and takes pride in his body, mind, and spirit. Once he has perfected these three areas, a Ninja is able to accomplish great feats of strength, agility, and cunningness. Most importantly, fellow Ninjas always stick together, through thick and thin. This is the way of the Ninja, and this will be the way of the Penns Valley Cross Country Team.”
From that day on, the Penns Valley Ninja Cross Country team has achieved great success. The young runners mastered their skills and grew into great Ninjas. Those original Ninjas led the team to the District 6 Championship that year. In the years to follow, Penns Valley has claimed four more District 6 titles and five individual district champs. Future Penns Valley runners should be taught in the ways of the Ninja, so that the winning tradition will never die.
They also set the following requirements for a teammate to be admitted into the Ninja brotherhood:
1) The runner must train diligently with the team for one full season.
2) The runner must exhibit some distinct example of physical superiority or mental cunningness.
3) The runner must read and understand the Ninja Legend and pledge his allegiance to his brothers.
Once a runner has completed the above requirements, he shall seal his Ninja brotherhood by receiving six taps on the left shoulder and nine taps on the right shoulder with the Ninja sword.
The Ninja brotherhood is a sacred honor, and all those who are in it, old and new, are bound together forever. May this legend and the Ninja sword be passed on to all the future Penns Valley Ninja Cross Country teams, and may the cross country winning tradition and the Ninja spirit, which made it, never die.