Kiddos 2014

Kiddos 2014

Monday, June 12, 2017


Disappointment is the teacher you don't want, of the class you don't want to attend. You know that you'll have to attend it at some point, and it'll be on your schedule when you least expect it. Sometimes you attend for a short time, other times you will go to that class for what seems an interminable amount of time.

Yesterday saw one of our senior athletes end his career at the state track and field meet. He's been ours since he was 12, literally.  We've watched him grow from a 70 pound little squirt to a 120(?) pound young man.  He's the kind of kid you want to sit and talk to, just to hear what's going on in his head. His opinions are thoughtful and fierce at the same time. He doesn't need you to agree with him, but he'll listen to what you think.  He's always respectful, but questions you to gain a deeper understanding, not simply to challenge your authority.  He truly wants to know WHY you think the way you do.

Last year's conversation after the state meet was all about swear words and if I thought I was doing my kids a disservice by "demonizing" certain words.  We agreed to disagree in the end.  This year's conversation at the state CC meet was all about the upcoming Presidential election.  This year's state track conversation centered on disappointment appearing on both of our schedules, unexpectedly.

He's funny and serious. He's a 4.0 three sport PSEO (college during HS) student.  He's been to state in Cross Country, Wrestling, and Track and Field. All in all, he's a pretty phenomenal kid. There are some athletes that become a part of the fabric of your life and he's one of them.  So he graduates today, and we are happy/sad and sad/happy.

He raced in the 800 on Friday night, a beautiful and smart race.  He had the 2nd fastest time coming into finals on Saturday.  It was hot on Saturday and windy. We weren't concerned about that, weather doesn't seem to affect his races, he just goes out and runs well no matter what. The only thing we were both concerned about is not our athlete's race, but how the others around him would race. All day there had been a lot of bumping and stumbling going on. We had never seen a meet where there had been so many athletes fall (and we're not talking in hurdle races either).  So we both (without talking about it) said to ourselves, just let him run his race and not fall.

The gun went off and he positioned himself well.  Of course there was a rabbit (someone who goes out super fast), but that's never bothered him. After the first lap he was in the lead pack and with 250 meters to go, he made a move, out to lane 2 and battling for the lead. Heading into the final stretch, he and two other kids were assured of 1, 2, 3 with just the order to be determined at the line. Watching from the back stretch, they disappeared from view behind the med tent, we heard the crowd go "OHHHHHH" and only one - not ours - appeared and raced to the finish line. Then we finally saw him cross - 8th place.

We were in shock. What happened? We raced to the other side of the track where we found his girlfriend, crying. She said that one of the other athletes lost control, fell, and took Jack with him. He was on his way to a career PR and a 2nd place medal and boom, now we're face to face with the disappointment on our schedule. Fear and Anger made brief (but will come back and visit again) appearances as we were called to the coaches rep tent.  We watched Jack be directed to grab his things, nod to the officials, and walk back toward us.

I was in a panic, was he disqualified? NO WAY. Then I was mad and fearful. The head official spoke to the other coach first.  His athlete was being disqualified because when he fell, he impeded another runner....our runner. Then the official spoke to us. Jack had the option to re-run if he wanted. By himself. After the completion of the 4x400. Or, he could take the 8th place.  So he's not disqualified? No. Relief, but still anger and disappointment.

He decided to re-run. After all, what was there to lose? He hit his first lap - 57 - just like we knew he could. And then, he just couldn't. He finished in 2:05 and maintained his 8th (now 7th due to the disqualification) place.

Then the disappointment started to really descend.  There was nothing we could have done as coaches. There was nothing he could have done differently as an athlete. The outcome of his race was beyond his, and our, control. So here we sit, surrounded by the disappointment and the anger. And, it won't go away. We'll come to terms with it, and by that I mean, learn to live with it. But, it will always be part of ours, and Jack's, story. We will attend that unwanted class, again and again. We will watch the videos and wish we didn't. We will replay the conversations and wish we didn't have them.  We will re-imagine how the race could have ended, and then we will be disappointed again.  We will eventually put it into perspective and realize that it's not life threatening nor is it tragic.

Most of all, we will remain so proud of this kid. Proud of how he handled this unexpected assignment and exhibited courage to run alone.  This is part of our story and his and we will handle it the best way we know how.

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