Jackie Addy (far right)
At the beginning of March, the world was Florida freshman Jackie Addy's oyster. Outdoor track was approaching and the eagerness to wear the UF blue and orange at the Florida Relays and beyond was more than exciting.
"Outdoor season was to be our time at Florida," Jackie said. "That is when we show up and show out." Unfortunately, a small virus had somehow got from an animal into a human in China, spread into other countries before working its way into the Red, White, and Blue of the USA. Ironic, if you think about it, how athletic bodies and minds can be so trained and sharp and strong, while a simple microbe later brings the whole world to its knees.
Jackie, as much and perhaps more than many - was greatly affected. One of her high school coaches put it this way, "Jackie Addy without running is like the Coral Reefer Band without Jimmy Buffett, Bonnie without Clyde." The question remains, not only for Jackie Addy but for so many: What now? And when? And where? "I've already had to learn who I am without running," Jackie said. "Running can't define me, I must define running. And who am I without Florida track? It's forced me to look at my hobbies other things I love -- like painting, broadcast journalism, things like that."
Ben Davies -- a former two-time state champ in Atlanta and now a junior at Boston College, put it like this. "It's frustrating -- you put in 60 miles a week for four months, run an entire indoor season, and then abruptly you have no way to show your ability. It's even more disappointing for those who used the indoor season as a launching pad to the outdoor season; it highlights the fact that everything was cut short." Ben, in his now probably unwanted spare time, still keeps his active mind with a potential plan ahead. "I think I will have different versions of 'The Davies Invitational', where I will solo-run and do some simulated all-out races just to spice things up - especially since easy mileage is not what I call a good time for the months of March through August."
Looking forward Ben expressed his gratitude in still having another year at BU, another year that many may not get depending on NCAA regulations and senior's individual decisions. "I feel for the seniors," he added. "One saving grace for me is that I have one more year where I can hopefully run faster than I've ever run in my life." Jackie -- sadly remembering the day the Florida track and training rooms were locked and she had little choice but to return home - is keeping sharp as well, with hopes of running the U.S. Junior Championship in Florida in late June, with a goal of making the World Under 20's race in July.
Still, how do you train when you're not sure the race is going to exist? Athletes, like everyone out there, are perhaps like the Christmas ball, the one where the kid shakes and shakes and the flakes fly everywhere. Up becomes down becomes left becomes right. Where's the equilibrium? While that answer is becoming hopefully clearer each day, Davies remains ready -- whether at Boston College or at his very own 'Davies Invitational.' Jackie, if her summer plan doesn't happen, is eagerly awaiting Fall cross country at Florida, having "the second semester freshman year" she never got.
They are like so many out there, trained as they can be physically - considering the conditions - though mentally, every day is different from the norm. They are young, active verbs if you will, eagerly awaiting to show their teammates, coaches, and the world what they can do. The question, however, remains: Exactly when will the next starting gun be fired?