Region Champs Buford Girls
It's a very difficult time for all of us. 6 weeks ago we were expecting Region meets to be fully underway, athletes putting all on the line for their respective schools. Here in Georgia, that means 56 Region and four Area Championships are being contested in a 10-12 day window. Referred to on this site as 'Region Madness'.
Track and Field is basically an individual sport with two standard relays contested at region, sectionals and state. Teamwise, it's a strange sport, that is until region. I've observed most male athletes routinely do not cheer for their teammates. Girls are completely different, vocally, and physically supporting their teammates. Maybe it's just a macho thing. That is until Region Championships.
Everything changes. I witnessed it when my son ran in high school at Oconee County. At duals-quads, invitationals, home meets, most void of any vocal support, except for parents rooting for their own kids, and of course the JV cross country guys cheering on the varsity distance runners. At Region, the atmosphere changes completely, especially when your school was in the running to capture a title. Everyone comes together, throwers, jumpers, vaulters, sprinters, hurdlers, distance runners, and more than anything else, the relay squads.
If the team scores were close coming down to the finals of the 4x400 relay, it took on a whole new dimension. In 2006, Oconee County excused all senior JV track athletes from school to travel on the team bus and support the varsity squad. I recall everyone on Oconee's squad getting up off the small hill where they had planted their butts across from the finish line at the Hart County Middle School track, then coming down trackside to wildly cheer for the boy's 4x400 squad in the final event to beat a very talented Elbert County squad with the Region title on the line. Afterward came the Awards Ceremony, everyone was all smiles, showing off, posturing for photos, full of laughter, living in the moment and later celebrating in a restaurant back home. Something most of them will cherish and never forget.
Of course, there will be no Region Championships this Spring, no reason to celebrate, only to lament what could have been. Seniors, who dedicated themselves to their programs for 4 years, not being allowed to finish their high school career on a high note and maybe qualify for State. Perhaps, even just making the smallest difference at Region, having the chance to score one or two points that could make a difference for a Region title or score a team trophy. Earning a letter for their school, adding a patch to their team jacket, being a part of a relay team in the finals, even the prelims, running their butts off for their school, for many the final track race of their lives.
It's a big hard pill to swallow, and it sucks that this pandemic has shut down a country. But, there is something more important, being able to take the experiences and lessons one has learned and apply them into one's life moving forward. Track, and especially cross country, can do this very well. This is a learning experience, only a small part of your life, yet one can utilize these lessons into your life to succeed, become a great human, parent, spouse, leader, educator, mentor, etc. It's up to you. Be safe out there in this uncertain time. We will get through this eventually.