I started out my athletic career trying out multiple different options. I tried ballet, but little three-year-old me got bored too quickly and decided to terminate that route, (kudos to my friends who stuck with dance because it really is a beautiful thing). One time, mom had me do golf lessons. That, too, was short-lived. I wasn’t terribly coordinated, patient, or quiet, so golf was also not the sport for me. I even tried out gymnastics for a few years. As the only fourth grader who was 5’9’’, the gymnast life was also not the right fit for me. My favorite childhood athletic activity was soccer. I thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of putting on the shin pads, the jersey, lacing up my soccer cleats and playing out with all my friend on the field. Soccer quickly became my favorite past time, and actually lasted with me up through my sophomore year of high school. Sometimes life can be disappointing, though. I played soccer for a solid thirteen years and never made it off of the junior varsity team. So… I switched to track and field. I ran track in middle school and figured why not try it out in high school as well. As it turned out, not choosing to run high school track and field earlier in my high school year was a big mistake. Track, at N.P.H.S., was honestly one of the best things to ever happen to me and I wish I would have joined soon in high school. It not only taught me physical strength but emotional strength and the importance teamwork as well. To be on a team like that is also to be a part of an incredibly supportive and talented community. It broke my heart when academics got in the way my freshman year of college, and track no longer became an option for me to participate in. (I wasn’t being lazy, I have a double major and minor, so there was virtually no way for me to give 100% to both). However, even though I may not still be running with a track team, I still hold the values and mentality that my high school track team has taught me.
I think that life is a lot like the sport of track and field. First off, while you may not choose the people on your team, or in life, you're all in it together one way or another. Fortunately, I got along really well with everyone on my high school team, but I am only human and fully admit to not getting along with everyone in my day to day life. As track has taught me, though, we’re all human, we all have challenges. Although we may have different goals, we should still stay the whole time and cheer everyone on, loudly and proudly.
While you’re running your race, or when you’re going through life, sometimes things hurt a little, and sometimes they hurt a lot. Do you fall down and never get up again? Absolutely not. With the help of some mental courage and the hands of your teammates, you get back up after every time you fall and push yourself through it. You find your personal limits and your break through them. You find a greater potential than you thought could ever be possible. You keep pushing through. Life is a race. It has a beginning, it has a middle with turns in it (left or otherwise) and it has a finish line.
If you want to reach your goal, if you want to get that personal record in your sprint or distance run/relay, if you want to throw the shot put further than you did the last time, if you want to jump higher and farther than you can now, you have to put the work in. You have to train before, during and after the track season. You have put give work, sweat, and tears to be the best you can be. The same is true in everyday life. If you want to accomplish your dreams and goals, the only path towards doing so is through hard work and constant dedication.
While my track and field career may have come to an early end, my love for the sport and the mindset is has given me will never die. If you’re in track now, don’t take any of it for granted and never stop giving it all that you have in you. If you’ve never been in track in your life, I encourage you to try on the mindset. It will change your life.
Whether it is on or off the track, I hope you run fast and turn left, I hope you never give up and continue to push your limits.