Did I ever tell you about all the kids I fell in love with during that season? Little pieces of my heart were stolen by teenagers.
This girl was my leader. She was sick with mono all season, dog tired, suffered with shin splints and I never once heard her complain. When I would ask her how she was feeling she would look at me with that smile and say, “Oh…I’m okay.” She ran the 400m and 800m, 1600m and then any combination of the 100m, 200m and 400m relay. Sometimes she had races that were back to back. I gave her permission to drop a race if she didn’t feel that she could do it. She never dropped a race. She was one of my highest point receivers and won medals at almost all of our meets. The kids follow her quiet leadership. She would lead the kids on mile runs, core exercises and encourage the youngest kids on our team. I don’t think there is one kid or coach that can say a negative word about this girl. And she’s a stellar student. Can you tell I love her? She’s a Senior this year and I will miss her dearly when she graduates.
This guy has a heart the size of Texas, except he’s from Korea. I’ve never met a kid that is so dedicated to his faith, school work and sports. One day, as we were holding planks and stretches, I had the kids sing little songs. This kid sang his country’s national anthem and it was beautiful, the whole team hushed to listen to him. I coached him in high jump and even though he never got to the height that he wanted to, his effort was amazing. He’s the only kid that came up to me after a very frustrating practice and said, “Coach, I’m praying for you”. He’s also the only kid that brought me to tears when I was handing out year-end rewards, because he’s just so precious to me. He’s a great example for the rest of the kids and the kids love him.
These two girls LOVE track. I mean they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE track!!! The blond is my little tough bulldog. I can’t describe the amount of pain this little gal suffered through the season. She has inflammation of her joints and she got lime disease on top of that, but it didn’t stop her from being my number one long and triple jumper, she brought home all sorts of medals and never gave up all season. She is a fighter. And she bought our team brand new colorful batons with her own money. I admire her spirit and fortitude, she’s an amazing girl.
The girl with the dark hair loves track more than any of the other sports she plays. When I asked if I could use that photo from her Facebook she said, “Yeah! That’s fine!! Oh, how I miss track!” She is my power house. I love to watch her run because she runs low and hard. She never complains when I make them run ladders, she loves to run. She’s Miss Enthusiatic no matter what the situation. I can’t wait to see what she does this year, I think she’s going to be even faster and stands a chance to break some school records.
Oh, this boy. He’s impossible not to love. I had to recruit him, because he wasn’t so sure about coming out for track this year, he was wanting to take a break after football and basketball and work at his job. With the help of Clay, his parents and a few other convincing folks, he decided to join the team. He started the season off in the hospital and then was pretty much sick the entire season. Do you see a little pattern in my team? We definitely had our share of illness and injuries. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s my best high jumper and one of my fastest guys. He’s also the kid that leaves a trail of stuff behind him. He left his uniform at a Taco Bell somewhere in Missouri. He’s the kid that told me to stop acting like a cheerleader when I was trying to encourage him during a very unsuccessful high jumping practice. He’s rough around the edges, but inside is a sweetness that is impossible not to see. One day as he was stacking his hat, watch and phone into my hands to hold for him I said, “I’m not your mother!” He looked at me with a grin as he walked away and said, “No, but you act like it.”
This girl is pure sweetness. She is a very talented gymnast and this was her first year in track. Everything she did she gave 100%. I loved her attitude, if I could bottle it and slug it down everyday, I would be a much better person. I love her! Oh, and she had tendinitis in her ankle all season. Hm, maybe I’m a bit partial to the athletes with illnesses and injuries. Or maybe half my team had illnesses and injuries.
Yeah, I know, I have to love this one since she’s related to me. I’ve always had coaches tell me how ‘coachable’ Ellen is, but I’d never experienced it first hand until I got to coach her. Of course I road her a bit harder since she’s my kid, but she performed well. When I told my sprinting groups that were a mix of 6th-11th graders to sprint hard, but not leave the next ladder without all their team mates on the line, she was the only one in her group that kept encouraging one of the younger boys that was being a full blown turd. The rest of her group ran ahead not wanting to deal with him. But, that little guy didn’t quit and Ellen stayed behind with him until they finished. Ellen has an unusual amount of compassion for people and more patience than is necessary in most situations. She’s the girl you want on your team because she won’t cause problems, she does what is asked of her and she encourages everyone no matter what their skill level. You won’t find her being bossy or judgmental and Ellen is the type that once the competition is over she’s ready to move forward win or lose, she doesn’t dwell on it. She was my little shadow the entire season, I couldn’t shake her, but I was glad for her company and she quietly encouraged me as well.
This is such a small sampling of the team, there are so many more kids that I could brag on, but I don’t have their photos and it would be a monster long post. I mostly worked with the varsity group, but all forty of those kids stole my heart, even the little stinkers that I had to get after more than once. I see them at school now and some of them have asked me if I’m going to coach again this year, a few still call me Coach. I smile and say, “No, I don’t think so.” But, I don’t know if they’re asking me because they want me to stay or not…they never say they want me to coach or liked me coaching. I think some of them are relieved that I won’t be returning. I’m really not much of a coach. Facilitator yes, coach…not so much. I’m happy to hand the reigns over to a person more qualified than myself, but I can’t hand over the love that I have for those kids.