Students encouraged to “find their way…”
The Loveland Orienteering Team won numerous awards last season, including at the Flying Pig XXII, a national event: (left to right) Joe Roman (team mentor), Sam Richardson (LHS student), Nathan Stewart (LHS student), Isaac Jouwstra (Loveland resident) Leslie Nash (LHS student) and Greg Fasig (team mentor)
Loveland, Ohio – Have you ever wondered how people found their way from one place to the other before there were well-established roads, trails, and Google maps? Have you ever wanted to go into the woods, really into the woods, but worried you might get lost? If you’d like to develop skills to navigate in the wilderness while racing from one place to the other, you’re in luck. Loveland High School (LHS) is the only high school in the area – in fact, the only one in Ohio – with an orienteering club. While unfamiliar to most, orienteering is a competitive sport that combines running and navigation in timed races. The Loveland Orienteering Team, which completed its second year in May, was adopted as a club at LHS last fall.
Several of our members placed in their respective categories for the season standings and at the national Flying Pig Orienteering event in April.
“It’s really exciting to introduce this awesome sport to the students and athletes at the high school,” said Sam Richardson, LHS senior and club president who also runs competitive cross country for Loveland. “With a team of 22 – 15 youth and seven adults – our team had a great past year. Several of our members placed in their respective categories for the season standings and at the national Flying Pig Orienteering event in April.”
Often associated with the military, orienteering started in Scandinavia as a land navigation training exercise for military officers more than a hundred years ago, and the U.S. Orienteering Federation was established by officers at Quantico Marine Corps Base. As an off-road, off-trail running race where participants cross land with the help of just a map and a compass, orienteering requires a high degree of fitness and the ability to navigate through unknown terrain to various checkpoints. The season runs November through May, when the frozen ground allows for less impact on the land. The freezing, followed by thawing and spring rains, often erases all signs of orienteering during the winter. And, there are no worries about poison ivy or tick bites.
Orienteering offers a great reason to get outside this time of year.
“Orienteering offers a great reason to get outside this time of year,” said team mentor Greg Fasig, who has been an orienteering enthusiast since 2010. “People quickly learn how easy it is to stay warm, trekking up and down the hills of the Tri-State. It’s also easier to see the contour of the land when the trees are bare, which allows you to navigate using the contour lines on the map.”
During the 2017-18 season, the Loveland Orienteering Team participated in 18 competitions. Some of the most memorable events happened in a lot of mud, rain, and even snow – it’s rare for an orienteering event to be cancelled for inclement weather.
“The competition at Mt. Airy Forest was especially muddy,” said Fasig. “For the season finale at Governor Bebb MetroPark it snowed, reducing visibility to less than 10 feet at times – that combined with fogging glasses makes for a much more challenging event.”
The sport does not only require physical stamina, but also mental skills.
The sport does not only require physical stamina, but also mental skills. Orienteers learn and develop proficiency in analyzing, planning, monitoring, assessing, modifying, and other problem-solving skills.
“Participants practice these skills in a fun and safe environment, while under the duress of trying to complete the course as quickly as possible when racing,” said Dave Volkman, LHS teacher and club advisor for the team. “No other sport in the world combines these elements of fitness and problem solving.”