"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team."
~ Coach Phil Jackson
This Saturday, my high school track team will be competing at the Eastern Mass Divisional Championship meet up in Lowell. It's a big meet and it's also one of the last in their season, which is mind-boggling to me given that it feels like only yesterday we were training in the snow.
These girls have worked their tails off to get to this point. Countless miles in everything from those first bitter cold days to this past week's brutal humidity and heat. Hours of stretching and rolling. Limitless amounts of dynamics and strides. Hundreds of repeats of various distances at speeds that I can only dream about. Throws and jumps, more throws and jumps and then even more on top of that. Practice, practice, practice. And every time they come to the track and get into deal mode, I am in awe of their drive, their determination and their desire.
More often than not, these girls are fighting fatigue and stress; many of them juggling a number of additional activities beyond track, and all of them dealing with the rigors of a heavy academic workload. It's not easy to fit it all in. In fact, it's really damn hard. I happen to feel the same way almost every single day in my own life. Balancing family, work and my personal life, including my oft-crazy training regimen, tends to get incredibly overwhelming and sometimes unmanageable. When I'm in the peak of marathon training, I regularly get so tired that I begin to lose my motivation and drive. But, every time I get to the track and see these girls dealing with the same things, if only on a different level, I am re-motivated and re-inspired to buck up and get my game face on. This is life. It's what we choose. We crave it. It's who we are. Okay. Let's go.
Each time these girls run well or win a race, and maybe forget, if only for a brief moment, about all the hard work and sacrifices that went it to making it happen, I am reminded, once again, that it's worth it. For that brief moment of joy and happiness. Because there is nothing else like it. And I've got to believe that it's one of the main reasons they keep coming back to the track day in and day out. To push themselves, yes. But, to push each other, too. To laugh, to complain, to commiserate, to be silly and then to focus and work harder than they did day before. This is what I see every day. This is what it means to be on a team. To be one and to be many at the same time. And it will, undoubtedly, be an experience that they will all look back on continuously throughout their entire lives. As a former high school athlete, I know I do. As their coach, I know how lucky they are. How lucky we are. GO LEX!
Listen to this:
Scud Books - Hudson Mohawke