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Give a little, to get a little

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The aroma of spilled sweat, worn metal and apprehension flooded my nose as I gazed at the translucent mist that laid over the four lane track I had grown so accustomed to. It finally started, the season that I both dread and anticipate all year had made its way to my calendar, burning a hole in my stomach, reminding me of my unease. I replay my drills in my head, remembering my steps, my numbers for the blocks, the word “hand” over and over. My sweats can’t seem to keep me warm on this dimming April afternoon and I sit on the bone chilling bleachers with the abused blue baton cradled in my sweatshirt pocket. Shaken by a fellow teammate, I realize it’s time to pull on my hood, prepare my spikes and begin those most detested two laps around the field.

Year after year, I make the constant claim, that I do not want the stress, the nausea nor to ever see the faces of my teammates filled with disappointment. Although I make this exact declaration each year, I still return to the track team with eagerness and delight. I have discovered that I have a strong attachment to these exact components, I love the thrill of competition and the agony of defeat, because they give me the opportunity to experience what its like from both sides of the spectrum. Last season, however, was different, I was to fill the spikes of an infamous senior who started each 4 by 1 and 4 by 2 relay.

My stomach lurched as the announcer called the 4 by 1 relay into the bull pen. I was engulfed with the desire to turn around and run. Nevertheless, time beat me to the punch and soon enough my sweats were lying abandoned on the side of the asphalt track, yearning for my warmth. “Runners to your marks”, breathe, just stay on your toes. “Set”, keep your hips high and your elbows up, “Go!” just run as fast as you possibly can! The gun blasted and I kicked the block back with every ounce of nerves I had savored, the rest was up to my team. Throughout the years, I have found that there is an equilibrium where all that you can do meets all that the rest of what your team can do for you. I have always been a firm believer in pushing yourself, but when you are pushing others to accomplish a common goal, there is no greater triumph.

In the end each relay has its own conclusion; the spectators see it as you win or lose, the coaches think it’s all about the hand off, and the opposing team decides whether it will be doling out congratulations or gloating in their victory. While to a relay team, the conclusion is whether there was successful team unity or whether there is a scape goat to blame the loss on. The harmony of working on a team has helped me to value cooperation and determination. I found that in order for me to meet a goal with a combined effort from others, I must be a leader and a follower. For me, the relay still comes down to the same components, the team and the baton, and that for it all to work, I must give a little to get a little.





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