Georgia High School Cross Country Season: Opening Day

Photo: Marc Logan/Flash Forward Photography


It's hard to beat the jitters and the expectations of the first practice of a new cross country season. The blank slate, the new start, the reset, beginning again.

It's seeing the kids, mattress marks still on their faces, grudgingly in some cases get out of their cars, slink towards the track, looking, hoping to see a friend to commiserate with. "It's SO EARLY!"


Yes, it is, because there's a lot magical about greeting the day by watching the sun come up and do its thing. It's like being in on the ground floor of a job or an opportunity - when you arise when or before the sun does, you're there, right with it, you've missed nothing!

And there they are. Forty, fifty, or who knows, seventy or eighty kids, all suntanned, and windburned, and body surfed and traveled everywhere. Though a mere hours ago they were scattered across the globe, now they're on one set of bleachers, together, 7,842 stories waiting to be told - at once - with everyone talking and no one listening but who cares?

Driving these kids on the bus comes to mind. Oh, the chatter, the syllables, the voices, the clanging gong they all make but there is somehow something in unison about it.

Just like there's something about opening day, when you have to take all these stories and trips and adventures and somehow take adolescent minds and get them to focus on a goal or a season when there are SO MANY OTHER things going on in those skulls!

Frustrating? It can be if you look at it like that. Still, I've learned in my older years just to enjoy it, trust it, and know that my and our plans, no matter how masterful they may be, simply are NOT going to come out that way.

I've written this before: Have a general plan but not a specific one. Period. There are more variables than we have brain cells, many of which we will NEVER even know about. So, how can you be specific, we're not smart enough and we don't need to be.

Allow the beauty of the unknown. Trust it. Embrace it even.

After all, it's opening day. A new start, reset, a fresh beginning. The coach's words have to overcome a lot of the kid's mental erasers, must get through. For some, they will. Others, not a chance.

Still, there's a beauty in watching the sunrise, seeing kids walk up, listening to them interact while yawning and wiping their uncombed hair out of their eyes. It's a mess, an absolute chaotic mess.

But there's a beauty about it. And I've learned to love it.

And good luck to you all with your seasons - all of you. Love the good and embrace the suck. Because I can assure you, you're going to get a lot of both.