(photos by Dan McCauley)
We had a Zoom the other day with the cross country coaches in our region. I have to admit, I kind of got goosebumps when I saw those faces in all those squares -- reminded me of the show "Hollywood Squares" that aired when I was a kid.
Yes, I really did feel there was a celebrity in every box. These are people -- back only four months ago -- where I routinely boxed them out for a better place at the finish line. Tried to get in line in front of them when grabbing the official results. Drove faster than them to meets where our team would get a better place to put up our tent.
On this day, however, I sat in my living room in awe. There's Chad over at Wesleyan -- he's stood higher than me on the podium so many times I know his shoe size. There's Jayaraj -- he's a passionate soul about running -- and not just at Holy Innocents'. There's Denny at Galloway -- he keeps his team straight and all of us, too. We all chatted easily, excitedly even -- that is until we were asked who wanted to host the region meet. Then all got quiet. Funny how that works.
Still -- and this is coming from one who is allergic to meetings -- talking shop and hearing those familiar voices really did give me goosebumps. After all, with March, April, May, and June in the books of basically falling in love with our couches, this session meant that somebody -- somewhere -- was at least thinking about putting bullets in his or her starting gun. Call it what you will, but I call it progress.
It's not the big things in life, it's the little things. As a writer once said, we miss the little because we're always looking for the big. The little things: like needing volunteers on the course down at the pond because nobody was there last year. Or who's going to be in the chute to keep order and keep the kids moving? What timing company are we going to use?
We didn't meet long -- and we still didn't find anyone to host -- but what we did made me consider breaking away from my home, my refrigerator, my couch. Made me excited just thinking about kids chattering, seeing them setting their watches at starting lines, clicking them again at the finish. Made me automatically reach into my pocket to make sure I've got the bus keys.
I probably don't, but hopefully, I can worry about that in August. And September through November. Life is funny, never thought I'd look forward to, enjoy, and later write up a meeting. Maybe this is Armageddon. Still, those faces brought me adrenaline, memories of cramps on Mile 3, great runs where I'd forgotten to start my watch, early Saturday mornings where the bus driver may or may not show.
I close not asking for much. Wins and losses aren't important right now. Neither are T-shirts nor podiums, nor collecting the final results where stories can be written. No, this meeting left me with one request and one request only: Somebody, somewhere, please fire the starting gun. Anybody. I think a lot of us -- if not all of us - are ready.