Photos provided by Rome High Cross-Country Team

Several members of the Rome High School Cross-Country team took full advantage of their fall break by spending five days in a place where dreams come true and participating in the 22nd Annual Disney Cross-Country Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

This is third year Rome High School has taken a team of runners to Disney World. Head Coach Luis Goya, Assistant Principal for Anna K. Davie Elementary LeAnn Goya, and Assistant Coach Hannah Nabors traveled with their team of 15 juniors and seniors, and one sophomore to compete in this race with over 4,000 other runners from all over the United States.

“Back when we were debating about attending this race four years ago, I kept thinking of ways I could make our program stronger. The Disney Classic is a great incentive for runners who have been a part of the team for several years, to work towards something exciting and fun in their last year,” said Luis.

The athletes go to participate in the race but the trip is also more of a motivational expedition, as Goya and his team of coaches and students spend an extra few days visiting each and every park.

“This year, the team flew out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport. We also stayed on Disney property at Disney’s Pop Century Resort for the next four nights,” explained Luis. “Our first day was spent shopping at Disney Springs and enjoying time at the pool. On Wednesday, the team started their day early by hitting the new “Toy Story Land” in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, then hopped over to the Magic Kingdom for the evening. On Thursday, we dressed up in full Halloween costumes and spent some time at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom. On Friday, the team took on “Pandora- Avatar Land” at the Animal Kingdom and finished the night up by park hopping over to Epcot to make their way around the world.”

This trip is something RHS Cross Country looks forward to each year, and Goya uses it to “grow” his members as the cross-country team started with around only 30 runners and today they have 70 on the team.

“Even though we are here to have fun, every day we are here we are running, whether that’s jogging before sunset or running around a trail at the hotel during lunch,” explained Luis. “Some of these kids have never been to Disney World before, so seeing their excitement while visiting the parks or meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time is amazing. I always get beyond excited for this trip, because it gets better and better each year.”

Thanks to the Cross-Country Booster Club and the athlete’s ability to raise money for this event, Goya and his staff were able to fund the trip and allow the students to stay on Disney property, have all meals paid for and travel expenses taken care of as well.

Rome High Cross-Country plans to continue participating in this event in the future. “We are simply looking to have fun and reward these kids for a great season,” said Luis. “It is very special to share our love for Disney and running with the students of Rome High.”