On the Eighth Day...
On the eighth day, God invented track and field - and while he was on a roll - put in the 11th commandment to boot. "Thou shalt make the 4 X 400-meter relay the last event of the day."
I had to laugh the other night while watching our girls pass that sacred baton back and forth. Oh the times I've seen that stick dropped onto the track, and those hearts that dropped with it. Our boys lost state two years in a row in that race, the total distance was about the space between these two words.
Still, you have to love watching kids and grownups alike, filming with their phones, jumping up and down, kids trampling over each other at the finish line to get a good look. No, I don't really know who invented all this, though I do know it was James Naismith who came up with basketball, and I couldn't care less who spawned mixed martial arts.
Regardless, it wasn't only about our girls winning the region title and the excitement of the 4 X 400 - it was about consistency.
Our 800-meter boy - let's call him Aidan since that's his name - ran the fastest 800 in his life - broke two minutes in the process. I went to congratulate him but was trampled by his teammates who were waiting to get at him. The shoe marks on my back were all worth it. Besides, I need to do laundry anyway.
It was a good site watching young Aidan - a shy lad if there ever was one - get mobbed by his peers. I love the fact that you don't have to be outgoing to be popular. It's like water hitting a rock - you just keep showing up and you just keep showing up and one day you're breaking records and your teammates are mobbing you for it.
That's the way it works. As it should. And thank God.
Anyway, my thoughts are at the start/finish of that relay - and it was a neat sight watching one girl pass the baton to the next with only one word to offer: "RUN!" She did, for the record, and you simply couldn't help getting caught up in it, even though I don't even know who the heck she is or was nor what team she was running for.
It helped that our girls stood on the top of the podium when the night was over, though I can assure you we've had races where we were almost forced to walk under it. They were so excited they forgot their bags and their books and their yoga mats and their drinks.
Not their phones, though. Let's not get carried away.
Anyway, bless you all who put in the time to coach track, and my love to all who show up in the dead of winter to take part in any form or fashion. It's simplistic - you run and jump and play and throw things. We've made it complicated - because that's what we humans do.
Still, it's simple. Not much fancy equipment required. Singlet. Shoes. Maybe a watch. Throw in some water or some Power Ade.
Sorry for rambling; these are just thoughts left over from the sleep I didn't get last night. A baton dropped in my head and I woke up screaming at 3:30 in the morning. It'll be okay, though. Summer's approaching - baseball games, concerts, catching up on sleep, chilling out with friends or a good book, travel.
It's not the 4 X 400 relay or anything, but it'll have to do.
Dunn Neugebauer coaches cross country and track at Holy Innocents' and has a book of essays out on Amazon. You can usually find him at the finish line with a yellow note book in his hand.