The Greatest Gift of All

By , Dublin, OH
Tennis is my sport. Ever since the 7th grade, I had always said “tennis” when asked what my favorite hobbies are or what sports I enjoyed playing. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, the word “tennis” was so worn out and overused, I knew I wanted to let myself experience something new.

Soon, the spring came and track and field season started. My best friend at the time was a shot-put and discus thrower on the team and begged me to try it. I convinced myself that my muscle-deprived body and rail-thin arms were completely able to throw an 8 pound rock 25 feet across a sandy pit. I could barely manage to throw it over 10.

One day while I was waiting for my friend to finish her sprinting workout, the sprinting coach approached me and blatantly asked me why I would choose throwing over sprinting when I had the perfect build to run? I nervously stammered, “Uh, I don’t know?” He smiled and asked me to join them during practice tomorrow. Just to try it out. No pressure. Immediately my mind said, “Absolutely not! You can hardly run a mile!” but I ended up agreeing. After all, the point of this WAS to try new things, right?

We were halfway through the season by the time I started and most of my other teammates were already accustomed to the practices whereas this was my first time officially running. By the third day of practice every muscle in my body felt as if it were on fire and even better, my first meet as a sprinter was the next day. Over and over again I screamed at myself, “What were you thinking?! What have you gotten yourself into?” but I never once thought about quitting.

Today was the day that I had to actually race – and in front of people too! I counted down the minutes before the dreaded 200 meter sprint: 10 minutes left before my race; I’m finishing up my warm ups and nervously smiling at my friends who bracingly wish me good luck. 5 minutes before my race; my coach is giving me last minute advice while I blankly stare- my body and mind are already paralyzed with fear. One minute before my race; my heart beats as if there is a gun pointed at my head and I jokingly whisper to my teammate next to me, “If I win this race, I will buy you a new car”. Then suddenly “BANG!” the gun goes off and so do we.

I have ridden on planes many times before, but this was the first time I have ever felt as if I were flying. Adrenaline rushed through me like a waterfall and within 15 seconds it was all over. Everything was still such a blur and I could feel my body shaking as my best friend rushed over and hugs me. “You won, Jenny! You won!”

I still vividly remember the feeling I had after winning my first race- the extraordinary feeling of accomplishing something I never knew I could. This has always gave me the strength to keep going even when I wanted nothing more than to throw in the towel, whether it was during sports, school, or work. I didn’t become a track star or break any records but I did give myself the greatest gift- the mindset that I truly can do anything I want to do.





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